New Strain of Norovirus Discovered

January 31, 2013

The Center for Disease Control discovered a new strain to the norovirus, commonly known as the stomach flu. Local experts say the norovirus is becoming more common in our area and around the country.

The newly discovered strain impacting people all over the world is called the Sydney strain. Researchers say every few years a new strain evolves.

In the last four months, there have been more than 140 outbreaks of the Sydney strain in the U.S. alone. All of this on top of the already growing number of norovirus outbreaks locally, and across the country.

"There have been a number of cases in Charlottesville, and in general 15-20 million people in the U.S. get this virus, and about 70-thousand hospitalizations a year from it," says Dr. Margo Gill from Forest Lakes Family Medicine.

Even though it isn't the same thing as the flu, people affected by the virus get flu-like symptoms. Dr. Gill says although many people get the bug, not everyone is affected the same way.

"It's very common, it's not very testable," says Dr. Gill. "There are many numbers of norovirus, somewhere in the 50's, so you might get number two and I might get number 10."

Once you get it, Charlottesville pharmacist Leigh Anne Schiebel says there isn't much you can do to cure it.

"The norovirus just runs its course," says Schiebel. "There's really no medicine over the counter that will help very much. You need to keep drinking fluids and stay hydrated as much as you can keep down."

In order to prevent the virus Dr. Gill suggest washing your hands frequently as well as using hand sanitizer. It is also important to stay hydrated with fluids like water and drinks with a lot of electrolytes.

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