Local News

Stomach Flu Hits Local Schools, Offices

Posted February 10, 2004

— The stomach bug is the latest illness to hit the workplace, schools and doctors' offices.

It comes on suddenly, and, before you know it, you are down for the count.

It also spreads quickly -- and has spread quickly in the Triangle.

Many doctors believe it is a Norwalk-like virus known in the medical community as a

norovirus.

It is the same virus that infects people on cruise ships -- people in tight quarters, like schools and offices.

It is very contagious, but also preventable.

About 50 students have come to North Carolina State University's Student Health Service over the past two days with the symptoms of nausea and vomiting. Immediately, N.C. State doctors started a survey of sick students to see if they had anything in common that might have caused the illness.

There was no common food source, and no common residence where they all lived.

It is common knowledge that washing hands prevents the spread of germs. But local doctors have urged people to take an extra step in the midst of this virus -- telling people to use towels to turn off taps and open bathroom doors.

Dr. Richard Adelman, a local family practictioner, has treated children and adults with the stomach bug in the past few weeks. He said it has spread quickly through families.

For patients, Adelman said the key to getting well is drinking lots of fluids. For caretakers, he said, the key is keeping their hands clean and their environment sterile.

"When people are in close quarters, it spreads rapidly," Adelman said. "The best thing is to keep people apart. It is hard to do in school and daycare, places like that."

If you have a person in your home who is sick with this mess, doctors suggest you wipe down all surfaces with a bleach product.

Besides hand washing, it is important not to share drinks or utensils.

A scary aspect of this virus is that, according to the Centers for Disease Control, someone can be contagious for up to two weeks -- well after the symptoms are gone.

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