Highly contagious stomach bug sweeping across U.S.


by Mayra Moreno / KENS 5


Posted on January 26, 2013 at 5:23 PM

SAN ANTONIO - Aside from the flu, another virus is taking over the U.S. and doctors say they're now starting to see an uptick in patients sick with what's called the norovirus. They say it's highly contagious.

The virus spreads rapidly in places like schools, nursing home and even cruise ships. Last month, 220 people were infected while vacationing on the Queen Marry II.

It's keeping Dr. Fred Campbell quite busy.

"I'm seeing patients on a daily basis at this point, and that's much greater than usual," Campbell said.

Aside from seeing patients with influenza, another strain called norovirus is making its rounds in the U.S. Some symptoms include diarrhea.

"Vomiting that lasts 12 to 18 hours or a feeling of severe weakness or even faintness which could mean severe dehydration," said the doctor.

The norovirus can be deadly among young children, senior citizens and those with weak immune systems.

Campbell said anyone can be infected and get sick. He said it's important to practice proper hygiene like washing your hands, and avoid sharing food or water.

"You really don't know who has developed the virus early on so it could still be in an incubation period, especially with the person you come into contact with," he said.

The Centers for Disease Control said it's too early to tell just how severe the norovirus will be this season. They offer the following tips to stop the spread of the virus:

- Carefully wash fruits, veggies and cook shellfish thoroughly.

- Don't prepare food while infected.

- Use bleach to clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces.

- Use gloves when handling contaminated laundry. The virus can still be found in vomit and stool.

There is no cure for the norovirus. If you do see any symptoms consult your doctor.

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