When people think about the holiday season, it is meant to have thoughts of good times and spending quality time with the family. The fact that it is also the time when people get sick from the flu and other illnesses is something many do not want to think about.
However, this past holiday season up to the present, has forced many to not only have to deal with the flu, but a virus that is sweeping across the U.S. This is the dreaded stomach virus that saw 19 percent of outbreaks happen this past September and roughly 60 percent to occur in December. The common intestinal bug, known as the norovirus, happens every year but this new strain known as the Sydney strain has sickened millions with no end in sight.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that this year’s new strain is different from the one that emerged three years ago. This fact could explain why this year’s intestinal illness has hit so many in a severe way.
Yet, although it is new to the U.S., it is a strand that has sickened and swept through Japan, Western Europe and finally made its’ way to the U.S. The bug is known as the Sydney strain because it was first recognized in Australia and as CBS News reports; it has been identified as causing more than 140 outbreaks since September.
The virus hits everyone, but is extremely risky for the elderly and children as there is great concern of dehydration occurring. Those who contract the stomach bug experience vomiting, nausea, diarrhea and abdominal pain for 24 to 72 hours. Anyone who is sick is also extremely contagious, so it is important to take appropriate measures so the virus doesn’t spread.
Being that it is highly contagious, it tends to spread in places such as nursing homes, schools and even cruise ships. During a Caribbean cruise last month on the Queen Mary II, there were reports of 220 people that contracted the virus. According to the CDC, “Proper hand hygiene, environmental disinfection, and isolation of ill persons remain the mainstays of norovirus prevention and control.” This means that not only should people use hand sanitizers but to vigorously wash their hands longer than usual.
Sadly, anyone who contracts the virus cannot take any medicine for an instant cure. The only thing that does cure the virus is time. Experts say that those infected must ride it out and let it run its’ course, though it is important to make sure not to get dehydrated.
Anyone who gets the Sydney strain, I can honestly say, “I feel your pain.” The virus has even got spotlight by comedian Stephen Colbert. He made light of the virus this week when he tweeted: “Remember, if you’re in public and have the winter vomiting bug, be polite and vomit into your elbow.”
New Stomach Bug Hitting United States
A potent strain of norovirus called GII4 Sydney is being blamed for stomach virus outbreaks in the United States. West Penn Hospital emergency medicine physician Dr. Camilo Caceres told KDKA-TV that you may have norovirus and not even know it — usually it’s treated as a typical stomach virus and goes away on its own, though the very young and the elderly are at highest risk of severe illness. Dr. Caceres says he expects the virus will peak this month and then gradually fade out.
Sydney 2012 virus
The norovirus strain called Sydney 2012 has been sweeping through parts of Australia and has even spread further afield with its serious flu-like symptoms.