Alberta Health Services officials are warning Edmontonians to take precautions, as this is the season for potentially serious gastro-intestinal illnesses to spread.

Officials described the illnesses as Norovirus-like, and said such illnesses nearly always come with symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea – and some ill individuals could experience muscle aches and low-grade fever.

Symptoms often last between 48 and 72 hours, and usually don’t require special treatment, except for young children, seniors and anyone with weakened immune systems.

Officials said such illnesses are especially concerning for patients in those age groups because they can become dehydrated very easily.

“Anyone who is ill with gastro-intestinal symptoms, or suspects they might be getting ill, should stay home from work, refrain from visiting loved ones in seniors residences and other facilities and refrain from preparing food for others,” Dr. Christopher Sikora, Medical Officer of Health for the Edmonton Zone said in a press release. “Children who are experiencing gastro-intestinal symptoms should also stay home from school or daycare.”

Dr. Sikora went on to say any Edmontonians who is feeling healthy, but is living with someone who is feeling sick should also not visit hospitals or care homes.

AHS said such illnesses spread throughout the year, but are often more common in the winter when it’s more easily transmitted during the social holiday season.

According to health officials, the best way to prevent the spread of such illnesses is regular hand washing – and if symptoms persist for longer than three days a visit to a healthcare provider is recommended.

More information on such illnesses can be found on the Alberta Health Services website, or by calling Health Link Alberta at 1-866-408-LINK (5465).

With files from Ashley Molnar