Tips and Treatment for Fast-Spreading 'Stomach Bug'

02/14/2013

As seasonal flu trends begin to decrease, cases of a fast-spreading stomach bug known as 'Norovirus' continue to spread across the country, creating serious complications for patients, and continued demand on health care organizations. Concentra, a subsidiary of Humana Inc., is helping to educate consumers on some simple preventive ways to limit the exposure to this highly contagious virus.

Norovirus is a contagious virus that can infect anyone, and can be spread by an infected person, contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces. The virus causes an inflammation of the stomach and intestines, leading to severe stomach pains, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. Unlike seasonal influenza, there is no vaccine to prevent the spread of the Norovirus.

"Following this year's strong influenza season, the Norovirus has the potential to create greater complications in infants and the elderly, leading to severe dehydration," said Bill Lewis, M.D, Senior Vice President of Medical Operations at Concentra. "The easiest way to reduce the risk of catching and spreading the virus is through thorough and frequent hand washing, and routine cleaning."

However there are some simple precautions each person can take to reduce the transmission of the virus, and stay healthy and safe:

  • Wash your hands often — Wash your hands carefully with soap and water, especially after using the toilet and changing diapers, and before eating, preparing, or handling food.
  • Rinse fruits and vegetables before eating — Carefully wash fruits and vegetables before preparing and eating them.
  • Cook foods thoroughly — Cook oysters and other shellfish thoroughly before eating them. Noroviruses are highly resistant, and can survive quick steaming processes and temperatures as high as 140°F.
  • Clean surfaces and wash laundry — Clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces with a chlorine bleach solution or other disinfectant. Machine wash contaminated clothes or linens in warm or hot water.
  • Don't prepare food for others when sick — Do not prepare food or attend to the health needs of others while you are sick, and for at least two to three days after you recover.

Noroviruses are the most common cause of foodborne-disease outbreaks in the United States, and contributes to about 70,000 hospitalizations and 800 deaths each year. Many may know it as the "stomach flu" or "food poisoning", but it is not related to the influenza virus and there is no vaccine to protect against the spread of the virus.

Concentra Urgent Care offers accessible and affordable health care services through its 330 national medical center locations, treating a wide range of illnesses and injuries, at times when many physicians' offices are closed. As a leader in consumer health care, Concentra is improving the standard of health by sharing vital health information, and providing patients with a welcoming, respectful, and skillful health care experience.