Morning Rounds: Stopping the stomach flu

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NORFOLK, Va –  The spread of a stomach virus at a Virginia Beach school forced administrators cancel classes recently.  News 3 medical expert Dr. Ryan Light said it was a smart call.

“The virus spreads rapidly in close contact,” said Dr. Light.  “Cases tend to arise in clusters.  Families, communities, schools, and work-places are all equally susceptible.”

He also said, “Patients are contagious while they are symptomatic and can remain contagious for 72 hours after their symptoms.  The virus is so infectious because it can be spread directly and indirectly.  Food handlers can spread the virus during food preparation, and the virus can remain alive on hard surfaces.”

Dr. Light said he has had some cases of the stomach flu in his office.

“It is hard to identify if the cases we have seen are the norovirus,” said Dr. Light.  “The symptoms of the norovirus are vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and stomach cramping.  The virus is very virulent and easily passed from person to person.  Symptoms usually develop 12 to 48 hours after exposure and continue for about three days.”

Dr. Light said hand washing is the best way to prevent the spread of stomach flu, in addition to disinfecting hard surfaces and keeping infected children and adults out of contact with non-infected individuals.

“The norovirus will run its course,” he said.  “Seeking medical care is a good idea if symptoms of dehydration occur.  It is always a good idea to seek medical care if the patient or caregiver has unanswered questions and need additional guidance.”