Norovirus outbreaks at two Vancouver Island hospitals have staff asking visitors to take precautions so they don't make the problem worse.

Island Health says Cowichan District Hospital in Duncan has been hit by three confirmed cases and seven suspected cases of norovirus.

Port Alberni's West Coast General currently reports eight patients affected by the illness, down from 12 people last week.

"This is pretty common at this time of year," said Island Health spokeswoman Meribeth Burton. "Anytime you're going to get norovirus it's typically in the winter and in close quarters with lots of people living in the same environment."

There is no specific treatment for norovirus, which is a gastrointestinal illness that typically just needs to run its course, usually one to two days.

Symptoms begin to show up 12 to 48 hours after infection, usually beginning with the sudden onset of nausea, vomiting, watery diarrhea and stomach cramps.

Some may experience fever, headaches and aching limbs.

Health experts recommend anyone infected to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration as they recover.

Island Health is asking anyone who visits hospital patients such as the elderly to practice good hygiene and wash their hands before and after visiting.

"Do you really need to visit? Can it wait a day or two? Then please stay at home," said Buton. "If you are going to visit, please be part of the solution in combatting this and wash your hands."

Visitors are also asked to limit their trips to just see immediate family and keep their stays short.

Island Health said it has brought in additional cleaning staff to get the outbreaks under control.