New Strain of Norovirus - the Winter Vomiting Bug - On the Rise

A new norovirus strain was detected last year in Australia and has reached the United States.

Although the flu is on everyone’s minds this season, the winter vomiting bug, or the norovirus, is making its rounds.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the norovirus causes about 70,000 hospitalizations and 800 deaths each year, mostly in young children and the elderly.

Some of the virus' common symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach pains. The CDC points out that the norovirus is often referred to as the stomach flu, but it is unrelated to influenza.

Many people in Snellville are reporting the symptoms associated with norovirus, especially families with children. 

A new norovirus strain, GII.4 Sydney, was detected last year in Australia.  The strain hit the U.K. and sickened over a million people. It has now reached the United States and this new strain appears to be taking over.

Of norovirus cases reported from September to December, 54 percent have been identified as GII.4 Sydney, according to recently released data.

The first norovirus outbreak was reported in Ohio in 1968. Today, approximately 21 million illnesses are attributable to norovirus in the U.S. each year, reports the CDC.  Of those, approximately 25 percent can be attributed to foodborne transmissions. The norovirus can also spread quickly in closed places like daycare centers, nursing homes, schools, and cruise ships.

This hardy virus is extremely contagious. The BBC reports that norovirus is one of the few infections you can catch from a toilet seat. The virus can survive temperatures as high as 140°F, which makes eating raw fish, such as oysters, particularly dangerous.

Noroviruses can live in vomit or stool even before a person experiences symptoms, and up to two weeks after symptoms disappear.  People are most contagious when they experience symptoms and during the first three days after recovery, reports the CDC.  

There is no treatment or vaccine against norovirus.  To help prevent contamination, the CDC recommends the following tips:

5 Tips to Prevent Norovirus From Spreading

1. Practice proper hand hygiene

Always wash your hands carefully with soap and water:

  • after using the toilet and changing diapers, and
  • before eating, preparing, or handling food.
  • Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can be used in addition to hand washing. But, they should not be used as a substitute for washing with soap and water.

2. Wash fruits and vegetables and cook seafood thoroughly

  • Carefully wash fruits and vegetables before preparing and eating them.
  • Cook oysters and other shellfish thoroughly before eating them.
  • Be aware that noroviruses are relatively resistant. They can survive temperatures as high as 140°F and quick steaming processes that are often used for cooking shellfish. Food that might be contaminated with norovirus should be thrown out.
  • Keep sick infants and children out of areas where food is being handled and prepared.

3. When you are sick, do not prepare food or care for others

  • You should not prepare food for others or provide healthcare while you are sick and for at least 2 to 3 days after you recover.
  • This also applies to sick workers in schools, daycares, and other places where they may expose people to norovirus.

4. Clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces

  • After throwing up or having diarrhea, immediately clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces.
  • Use a chlorine bleach solution with a concentration of 1000–5000 ppm (5–25 tablespoons of household bleach [5.25%] per gallon of water) or other disinfectant registered as effective against norovirus by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

5. Wash laundry thoroughly

Immediately remove and wash clothes or linens that may be contaminated with
vomit or stool (feces).

You should—

  • handle soiled items carefully without agitating them,
  • wear rubber or disposable gloves while handling soiled items and wash your hands after,
  • and wash the items with detergent

Beth January 29, 2013 at 08:54 PM
Both my parents have it. Mom went to ER in the middle of the night Sat by ambulance and Dad came down with it on Mon. They are both in their mid 70's and have been sicker than I have ever seen them.
Crystal Huskey January 29, 2013 at 10:18 PM
My family had it too. It's been bad, but what's really freaked me out has been the random vomiting I've seen from kids in public places. I've never seen a bug like this!
Libby Kiser January 30, 2013 at 02:56 AM
I have had it for 4 days now! It is the worst thing I have ever had. The stomach pain alone is horrendous, let alone the vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea!! Today is the first day I have been able to eat a little and hold it down. Hoping it continues this way! If you can stay home, please do so! This is a horrible stomach virus, that I wouldn't wish on anyone!!!
Tara Tillotson January 30, 2013 at 12:20 PM
My kids had it for about 1 week before I came down with it. I thought I had somehow avoided it lol. No no no. I'm typing this from the bathroom floor where I've tried to sleep last night but threw up every 10 minutes instead. I can't keep down a sip of pedialyte. As far as the kids, they had it bad but they all managed to keep food down some and fluids as well. Way better than me. I had a high fever and couldn't keep medicine in the relieve It so I sweated it out from dry heaving so badly. It's a pretty awful bug. But like i said don't fret too badly. My kids are already on the road to recovery. Leaving me farrrrrrrr behind them.
RUSS HAMILTON March 19, 2013 at 05:24 PM
Russ I started throwing up late Saturday evening and having diarrhea. Later in the night I started having hot and cold sweats and stomach cramps very bad. I was throwing up every 30 minutes or so. Sweats and chills, stomach cramps, throwing up and diarrhea was very bad. It has been three days now am I am over the chills, headache, throwing up but still have diarreah. At this point I feel a little weak but a little better.


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