Stom­ach flu on the rise

Two new virus strains may be to blame

The Covington News - - HEALTH & WELLNESS - By Mike Stobbe

AT­LANTA — A 90- yearold nurs­ing home pa­tient died from the stom­ach flu last year, mark­ing the first time U. S. health of­fi­cials con­firmed that the highly con­ta­gious bug is some­times fa­tal.

The North Carolina wo­man so far is the only per­son for whom lab tests con­firmed norovirus as the killer, but health of­fi­cials be­lieve the virus killed at least 18 oth­ers and caused thou­sands of ill­nesses late last year.

Noroviruses are a group of viruses that cause the stom­ach flu, or gas­troen­teri­tis. They also are some­times called Nor­walk- like viruses.

Health of­fi­cials don’t sys­tem­at­i­cally count and di­ag­nose norovirus cases. But last win­ter seemed to be par­tic­u­larly nasty, with more than 1,300 out­breaks re­ported in 24 states, ac­cord­ing to the U. S. Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion.

Two new strains of norovirus were iden­ti­fied in the out­breaks and may have driven the heavy caseloads, ac­cord­ing to an ar­ti­cle this week in a CDC pub­li­ca­tion, Mor­bid­ity and Mor­tal­ity Weekly Re­port.

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