New strain of stomach virus reaching Richmond - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

New strain of stomach virus reaching Richmond

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

A new strain of a stomach virus has made its way to Richmond. Local health officials confirm one outbreak of the Sydney virus, a new mutation of the norovirus.

Twenty million Americans suffer the stomach virus each year. This season, the Sydney strain is responsible for more than half the cases currently going around. Virginia has counted 48 stomach virus cases, this season. The Richmond City Health District confirms that at least about ten people have gotten ill in Richmond, from the Sydney strain specifically. Local officials are also investigating at least two other reported outbreaks of the stomach virus.

"It's very contagious and causes sickness very quickly," said Dr. Danny Avula, deputy director of the Richmond City Health District.

Symptoms of nausea, vomiting and diarrhea can appear within hours of contracting the stomach bug.

Dr. Thomas Murphy of Patient First says Americans might be more susceptible to the Sydney strain, because we haven't built up a resistance to yet.

"Since we haven't had it here before, people haven't really been exposed to it. We really don't have a decent immunity. So, it can cause more extreme illness," said Dr. Murphy.

The stomach virus has no cure. Doctors can only help ease symptoms of the virus.

"We put (patients) on medication for nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. We tell them what kinds of things they can eat or drink," continued Dr. Murphy.

The bug usually passes within 48 hours. The absolute easiest way to prevent getting the norovirus, is to simply wash your hands. The virus is transmitted through fecal or oral matter, so disinfecting is key. Drinking lots of water is also important, to stay hydrated through a rough couple days. Young children and the elderly should see a doctor immediately if they feel ill, since they're particularly susceptible to dehydration.

Copyright 2013 WWBT NBC12.  All rights reserved.

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