(CNN) – Evacuees who fled Camp Fire in California face norovirus outbreaks in shelters. O Butte County Health Department said 145 people were ill with vomiting and / or diarrhea since refuges were open to evacuees and 41 people were experiencing symptoms in four different refuges as of Wednesday night.
Twenty-five people went to the hospital for medical assistance, the health department reported in a statement.
"The number of patients is increasing every day," the statement said.
Nearly 9,700 houses were destroyed and 141,000 hectares burned in the fire. Sixty-three people were killed due to the fire and more than 600 are missing.
Butte County health department is working with the Red Cross, the federal and state partners to reduce the spread of the disease in the evacuation shelters, according to the statement published Thursday.
Some of the actions that are being taken are the establishment of separate refuges for sick evacuees, active monitoring of refuge neighbors and protection equipment for medical personnel.
What is norovirus?
Norovirus, sometimes referred to as stomach or stomach flu, is "a very contagious virus that causes vomiting and diarrhea," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States. It takes 19 to 21 million cases of acute gastroenteritis in the United States every year.
The most common symptoms are stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Fever, headache and body pains can also be signs of norovirus.
The CDC says the symptoms usually take place between 12 and 48 hours after a person is exposed, and most people recover within one to three days. Norovirus can lead to dehydration, particularly in young children, older adults and those with other diseases.
Although there is currently no vaccine or medication to treat those with norovirus, it is recommended that the patients take many liquids to avoid dehydration.
Norovirus can spread easily and quickly, especially in crowded environments. It can spread through contaminated foods, contaminated water, contaminated surfaces and through the sick.
Some of the most common sites for norovirus outbreaks are cruise ships, nursing homes, long-term health care facilities and restaurants or events where groups of people are in close contact with each other in closed areas.
The CDC recommends practicing good hygiene of the hands, cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and safely handling and preparing food to stop the transmission of the virus. They also say that people who are sick should not care or prepare food for others.