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Sunday, January 27, 2013

New stomach bug spreading across US

Hitting Rhode Island hard
By Will Collette

Just as the reports of flu cases are leveling off, the country is seeing a rapid rise in reported cases of the new “Sydney strain” of norovirus, a nasty stomach bug that causes severe vomiting diarrhea and nausea.

New strains of stomach viruses emerge every few years. The last time was in 2009. This new strain was first observed in Australia, thus the name. It has spread rapidly around the world, usually by contact with infected food or surfaces.

Stomach viruses are often worse in winter. They can spread rapidly in closed environments, such as cruise ships, schools and nursing homes and then into the general population. The illness can be spread by food handlers who do not wash their hands.

The Boston Globe cites Ian Goodfellow, a prominent researcher at England’s University of Cambridge, who calls norovirus “the Ferrari of viruses” for the speed at which it passes through a large group of people. ‘‘It can sweep through an environment very, very quickly. You can be feeling quite fine one minute and within several hours suffer continuous vomiting and diarrhea,’’ he said.

Makes you feel worse than you would
reading a George Tremblay research report
According to Dr. Peter Simmon of the RI Health Department the illness is dangerous to the elderly, babies and persons with compromised immune systems. He recommends contacting a doctor at the onset of symptoms and to stop eating and drinking while the vomiting persists.

However, the Centers for Disease Control recommends drinking lots of fluids to replace what you lose through vomiting and diarrhea to prevent dehydration.

Actor Burt Reynolds was just hospitalized in intensive care due to severe dehydration.

Symptoms of dehydration: decrease in urination; dry mouth and throat; dizziness when you stand up. Children who are dehydrated may cry with few or no tears and be unusually sleepy or fussy.

Dr. Simmon says the first stage of vomiting should pass after 24 hours, but that you could remain sick for four to five days – and remain a carrier of the disease for up to ten days (so back off!).

This is a virus, so antibiotics will not work on it. Treat the symptoms and get some TLC, but forget about Z-Pack or any antibiotics that only work on bacterial infections.