As if a severe flu season isn’t enough, Maryland is being hit with a new strain of norovirus, sometimes called “stomach flu.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says this strain is highly contagious. It spreads easily in schools, nursing homes and other enclosed areas. This norovirus strain is called the Sydney strain because it started in Australia and has caused outbreaks around the world.
Despite being referred to as stomach flu, norovirus is not really the flu, which is a respiratory infection. Norovirus inflames the stomach and intestines which causes stomach pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. Some people may also have a low-grade fever, chills, headache, body aches and fatigue. These symptoms can show up suddenly from one to three days after you are exposed to the virus.
To avoid infection:
• Wash your hands frequently to stop the viruses from spreading. Help children wash their hands thoroughly.
• Wash fruits and vegetables carefully and cook shellfish before eating.
• Disinfect areas in the home and at work when someone does become sick.
If you do come down with “stomach flu,” you should drink plenty of liquids to avoid dehydration. You should usually feel better after two or three days. See a doctor if your symptoms are severe.