- Last Updated on 08:06 AM 03/06/13
- BY Paula I. Bryant
It’s that time of the year, I guess. Stomach bugs and the flu are continuing to make their rounds, and no one is exempt.
The latest victim is the Queen of England who was hospitalized Sunday suffering from a “stomach infection” that forced her to cancel or postpone a week’s worth of engagements.
It’s the first time in a decade Queen Elizabeth, now 86, has had to go to the hospital, but the stomach bug definitely is no respecter of persons and nothing to fool around with.
Seems like everywhere you go, somewhere either has the flu, a cold or the Norovirus.
Last week, the Centers for Disease Control reported this year’s flu shot was doing a “startlingly dismal job” of protecting the elderly from the harshest strain.
The vaccine was proving to be only 9 percent effective.
To add insult to injury, in the midst of the winter flu outbreak, another virus — Norovirus — also has spread quickly throughout the area.
Doctors’ offices report being slammed with patients suffering from stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting which is especially dangerous for the elderly and children because it leads to dehydration.
And who wants to drink liquids when you feel like nothing is going to stay on your stomach?
With the flu raging and Norovirus running rampant, folks are having a tough time determining why they’re sick – Is it the flu? Norovirus? A respiratory illness? Or just the common cold?
The Centers for Disease Control is reporting the Norovirus outbreak in 47 out of 50 states, so if you’re suffering stomach ailments like the queen, it’s a good bet that’s what you’ve probably got.
According to information provided by Doctors Express, unlike influenza which spreads through the air, Norovirus lives on surfaces or food people touch, is easily transmitted, very contagious and can infect anyone. This virus is so strong that hand sanitizer does not really stop it from spreading.
The best way to help prevent Norovirus is to practice proper hand washing and general cleanliness.
“Unfortunately, there is no vaccine for this particular virus,” said Dr. Scott Burger, co-founder and chief medical officer of Doctors Express. “If there is a silver lining to this predicament, it’s that proper hygiene is the best source of prevention. So, we are urging people to be extra vigilant about washing their hands and cleaning off all surfaces with bleach products.”
Norovirus fast facts:
• People with norovirus illness are contagious from the moment they begin feeling sick until at least three days after they recover. But, some people may be contagious for even longer.
• Norovirus outbreaks occur throughout the year. But, over 80 percent of the outbreaks occur from November to April.
• Norovirus is the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis in the United States. Each year, it causes about 21 million illnesses and contributes to about 70,000 hospitalizations and 800 deaths.
• Norovirus is also the most common cause of foodborne-disease outbreaks in the United States.
• Practice proper hand hygiene - wash hands carefully with soap and water, especially after using the toilet and changing diapers and always before eating or preparing food. Hand sanitizer should be used if soap is not available, but it is not a substitute.
• Carefully wash fruits and vegetables, and cook oysters and other shellfish thoroughly before eating them.
• Do not prepare food while infected.
• Clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces - use a bleach-based household cleaner or use a solution made with five tablespoons to 1.5 cups of household bleach per one gallon of water.
• Wash laundry thoroughly — immediately remove and wash clothing or linens that may be contaminated with vomit or stool. Use hot water and machine dry.
And we can all hope the cold temperatures and snow we’re seeing today will help kill some of these germs.
Here’s one who’s looking forward to spring. It’s only two weeks away.