A possible outbreak of the norovirus affecting students at one Toronto-area school may also have swept through several other schools and institutions this year.

Reports of a flu-like illness affecting students at Thornhill Woods Public School originally surfaced earlier this week but CTV News has learned at least two other schools, a seniors’ home and a daycare in the same region may have also been affected by a similar outbreak.

“This is the time of year where we do see an increase of enteric illness in the community and in various institutional type environments,” said Marjolyn Pritchard from York Region Public Health.

The number of children affected at Thornhill Woods has not been confirmed but it is believed to be around 200.

Dr. Isaac Bogoch, a clinical researcher and expert on infectious diseases, told CTV News Channel on Wednesday the norovirus can spread extremely fast. The virus is transmitted by the fecal-oral route and can be picked up by touching anything or anyone that has come in contact with the virus before touching your mouth.

“You can see it in places where people crowd together,” said Dr. Bogoch. “In this case it’s in schools but there are reports of this in dormitories and certainly on cruise ships.”

Dr. Bogoch said the virus causes symptom like nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. The symptoms generally last between one and two days

But he added there are ways to manage the virus if you get it, including not going to school or work if you’re infected because the virus is highly contagious.

He also said it’s very important people wash their hands as the virus is transmitted from unintentionally touching your mouth after touching something that has been in contact with the virus.

Finally, Dr. Bogoch said, if you can, try to wipe down all surfaces that are potentially contaminated with a strong cleaner, such as something bleach-based.

According to Dr. Bogoch, for people who have contracted the virus, drinking fluids and electrolytes is important.

“The big caution here is dehydration,” said Dr. Bogoch. “Little kids and the elderly can get dehydrated pretty quickly.”

It is very rare that someone will need to go to the hospital if they are infected with the virus, said Dr. Bogoch, but it is possible if they are finding it difficult to keep up with their fluid intake.