Stomach flu on the rise
Two new virus strains may be to blame
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.