A new strain of the norovirus, better known as a stomach bug, originating in Sydney, is expected to wreak havoc on America as it has in other parts of the world. The new stomach bug has been the cause of more than 140 different outbreaks, and, while the norovirus is not deadly, it is unpleasant.
Between September and December of 2012, of the 266 stomach bug outbreaks reported in America, 141 were caused by the Sydney strain of the norovirus, according to a new report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As of December, the Sydney stomach bug accounted for 58 percent of all norovirus outbreaks in America.
The stomach bug has also impacted Japan, the UK, Western Europe and other parts of the globe, according to the Associated Press. The norovirus is highly contagious, and a new strain of the stomach bug is even more likely to affect large groups of people. The Sydney strain of the stomach bug is different than the one people are used to getting sick from.
Normally, the New Orleans strain of norovirus is the culprit behind hundreds of people holding their stomachs, doubled over in pain. The new strain may catch a person’s immune system off guard, and, according to Aaron Hall, an epidemiologist at the CDC, the new Sydney strain can be especially problematic, “because people haven't been exposed to it before, so they're more susceptible,” reports USA Today. Flu season started early this year, notes Hall, leading to a rather nasty one-two punch of winter diseases.
Winter is norovirus season, and the disease is quite contagious. Outbreaks are caused by touching contaminated surfaces, being in contact with contaminated food or being near someone who is infected. Schools, hospitals, offices and other public places are typical breeding grounds for the stomach bug. It is also an airborne disease, so even though you may sanitize all the countertops, clean your hands and promote sanitization, you could still get the stomach bug.
According to the CDC, nearly 21 million people get the stomach bug each year, and 800 people die from the norovirus annually. Symptoms include diarrhea, nausea, stomach pains and body aches. People with stomach bugs should make sure they take plenty of fluids in order to prevent dehydration.
While the numbers are bad enough, the stomach bug’s peak month is January, which is why experts are worried that this new strain of norovirus can lead to massive outbreaks. Unfortunately, there’s no real way to treat the stomach bug, notes the AP. Instead, those infected will have to suffer through a few rather unpleasant days of frequent bathroom trips.