New strain of stomach virus sweeps country

by: Diana Davis Updated:

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ATLANTA - Atlanta's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking a new strain of stomach virus sweeping the country, causing lots of misery.
         

Channel 2's Diana Davis talked to Dr. Cherie Drenzek, Georgia’s chief epidemiologist about who's getting sick from the norovirus.

“Most of the outbreaks so far in Georgia have been in settings such as nursing homes and assisted living centers, day cares and in elementary schools. We actually see new strains of norovirus every two to three years. The last time we saw this particular change in strain was in 2006 and 2007,” said Drenzek.
 
The new strain was first reported in Australia. Now, the CDC calculates more than half of the 266 norovirus outbreaks across the country in the last four months are from the new strain.

“It’s not super serious for the average person. (It) is very annoying, 24 hours of vomiting, diarrhea and feeling miserable, and you get over it,” said Dr. Robin Dretler, an infectious disease specialist with DeKalb Medical Center.

The illness and fever typically start suddenly and last one to three days. Most people do fine without treatment, but if they can’t keep fluids down for more than twelve hours, patients may need an IV.
         
The virus spreads not only from person to person, but by touching surfaces contaminated by a sick person. That's why it can be so contagious. Outbreaks are common on cruise ships, and in nursing homes and schools. Washing your hands with soap and water, and wiping down surfaces with diluted bleach is the best prevention.

Drenzek told Davis this is the season for the norovirus. So far, Georgia has had only slightly more cases than this time last year.
                   
For now, the CDC said it's too early to tell if the new strain of the virus will create any more illness. They're working closely with state health departments to track it.



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