CDC: Norovirus strain GII.4 Sydney running rampant in U.S.

Sunday, January 27, 2013
By Paul Martin
January 27, 2013

HEALTH – An extremely virulent strain of Norovirus is spreading across the United States, and this on the heels of one of the worst influenza outbreaks our country has ever seen. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia, this newest strain of narrow virus, called GII.4 Sidney, was first discovered in Sydney, Australia in March 2012. In the United States, it is currently the leading cause of Norovirus outbreaks, and because it is a new strain, it is easy to contract because no one has any immunity to it. A Norovirus is basically what you might call the stomach flu or even food poisoning. It is generally transmitted because people don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom. According to the CDC, it is very contagious and can infect anyone, but certain groups of people are at increased risk for contracting the virus. It can be transmitted by a currently infected person, contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated services. The virus causes stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. Norovirus is the most common cause of acute Gastro enteritis in the U.S. each year, with roughly 21 million people contracting the virus, requiring 70,000 people to be hospitalized, and indicated as the cause of death in 800 people annually. Senior citizens and small children are at greater risk for contracting Norovirus, as well as persons with a compromised immune system, such as HIV/AIDS sufferers and cancer patients. The GII.4 Sydney strain of Norovirus will remain the predominant cause of Norovirus outbreaks, and it appears to have replaced the previously predominant strain GII.4 New Orleans strain which was up till now the predominant cause of Norovirus outbreaks in the U.S. Symptoms of Norovirus are similar to that of food poisoning or the stomach flu, and include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, stomach pain, fever, headaches and body aches and pains. This current strain is said to come on quickly, sometimes within half an hour after touching a contaminated surface or ingesting food contaminated with the virus. Most people affected by the Norovirus illness will get better within 1 to 3 days. If you have contracted the Norovirus, remember to drink plenty of fluids to replace the fluids that are loss from vomiting and diarrhea. Preventing dehydration of your body is essential, and symptoms of dehydration include, a decrease in urination, dry mouth and throat and feeling dizzy upon standing. If you feel as though you have contracted a Norovirus, it is best to seek prompt medical attention from your healthcare provider. –Guardian Express

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