BROOKLYN - Hundreds of residents throughout New York City are battling a stomach virus since the new year.

The New York City Health Department says there has been a 58 percent increase in the number of people affected by the gastrointestinal illness since November. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, fever, chills and aches.

Dr. William McCormack, the chief of infectious diseases at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, says the bug spreads quickly in group settings, and by sharing utensils or eating foods handled by sick people.

Residents should take precautions, such as regularly washing their hands, staying home from work or school when sick and washing surfaces with antibacterial soaps.