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Health Team

'Stomach Bug' Sufferers Make Way To Area Hospitals

Posted February 14, 2007 3:36 p.m. EST
Updated February 15, 2007 2:23 p.m. EST

WRAL Health Team
WakeMed said stomach viruses are the No. 1 reason people have been coming through its emergency department for the past couple months. A stomach virus involves diarrhea and sometimes vomitting and fever. For some, it can lead to dehydration. Some people also end up in the hospital.

When a stomach virus hit Vivian Johnson's home, it was like watching dominos fall.

"It traveled through our house really quickly," she said.

Johnson caught it as well as her husband. Now, she is concerned about her four boys. Her son, Isaiah, was the most recent case with diarrhea and vomiting.

"It was really hard because you have to go to the bathroom. You couldn't make,'" Isaiah said.

Johnson works at a preschool where she might have caught the bug.

"It's been horrible. We have a lot of children that's been coming in sick with stomach flu, stomach viruses," she said.

WakeMed emergency physician Dr. Gregory Cannon said he also sees many cases.

"(People) just can't keep things down or are having a lot of abdominal cramping or getting dehydrated, just feel ill from that or are having a high fever with it," he said.

Stomach viruses, which typically run its course from two or three days, are typically spread through hand to mouth contact. The virus lives on surfaces like door handles, computers or phones.

"It doesn't take much to touch something around the room and then touch your face," Cannon said.

Health experts said the way to avoid it is obvious, but too few people do it -- wash hands frequently and disinfect surfaces.

For those that do have a stomach bug, you can try taking fluids with ice chips until vomitting stops. Then try small amounts of clear liquids such as tea, broth, Gatorade or ginger-ale.

If you can tolerate a small amount of those fluids at first, then add more later; --one ounce every 15 minutes. If vomiting recurs, wait a hour or two before trying clear liquids again.

After 24 hours without nausea, vomiting or diarrhea or if you are hungry and not vomiting, you should try to eat dry toast, saltines, or white rice, with jelly or honey for energy. You may try the BRAT diet -- Bananas, Applesauce, Tea and Toast.

Cannon said if you are able to produce urine, it is a good sign that you are not in trouble of dehydration.