‘Vomiting bug’ spreads across Va.

Posted at 8:22 PM, Jan 30, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-31 09:41:14-05

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) -- Health officials say a new Norovirus strain, known as the "vomiting bug," is spreading fast across the country and has arrived in Richmond.

Richmond Health Department's Dr. Danny Avula said this latest dangerous strain called Sydney is very contagious and causes illness quickly, which is typical with the Norovirus.

"I think the take home message for the public is that this is a new strain and so because of nobody's been introduced to it before, they may be more susceptible to it," Avula said.

Patient First on Parham Road is still seeing patients who are ill with the flu, but are also not seeing patients with symptoms of the Norovirus, which are similar to other viruses.

"In this week, we've had two or three people in here that have had vomiting and diarrhea," Patient First's Dr. Ken Lucas said. "They were basically healthy folks, but they got pretty washed out. Several of them got intravenous fluids, just because they were getting a little bit dry."

Health officials say individual Norovirus cases are not reportable, but when a healthcare facility or cruise has multiple patients, it is classified as an outbreak.

In turn, Virginia has had 48 outbreaks, with one Sydney strain confirmation in Richmond -- and two others that are under investigation.

However, Avula said said the latest strain's symptoms are not "any more severe than what we normally see year in and year out."

Additionally, doctors say flu prevention is similar to Norovirus prevention. Some tips include frequent hand washing and using a bleach solution in the bathroom. And doctors say if you do get sick, stay home from work or school.

And doctors warn that if you do get the Norovirus, there is no medication that will help, but that symptoms usually pass within 24 to 72 hours.