'Stomach flu' common illness in U.S.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, norovirus is the most common cause of stomach illness in the U.S.

Each year, 70,000 people are hospitalized from noroviruses, which also cause about 20 million illnesses and about 800 deaths.

But now health experts are reporting a stronger strain of the virus out of australia that has made its way to the U.S.

They say it could cause more illnesses.

CBS 19's Dana Hughey has tonights health alert.

A new strain of the norovirus is picking up steam in the U.S.

More than 140 outbreaks of the virus have been reported thus far.

It may cause serious complications, especially during flu season.

That's because the norovius is not the flu -- though it's sometimes referred to as the "stomach flu."

It's a virus that attacks the intestinal tract.

The common flu causes more problems to the upper respiratory system and happens during flu season.

So contracting both illnesses at one time could be possible this time of year.

Noroviruses are very contagious.

You can get them from infected people and contaminated food or water.

The viruses also lurk on surfaces, such as handrails, keyboards and counter tops.

And they can make you very sick, because they cause inflammation to the walls of the colon and stomach.

Symptoms include

- stomach pain

- nausea

- diarrhea

- and vomiting.

The CDC says the best way to fight the norovirus is to wash your hands.

Officials say although this strain may not be that easy to control, keeping clean is your best defense.

Physicians say the best way to treat it is to rest and stay hydrated.

If you or a loved one has the symptoms, health experts say see a doctor immediately, especially if the virus is affecting a child or an elderly person.  

As we've reported, the norovirus is hitting east texas pretty hard.

The virus is self limiting - meaning eventually, it'll pass on its own.

Doctors say those infected with norovirus should stay home, drink plenty of liquids and limit their diet to small amounts of easily digestible foods.



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