Norovirus Stomach Bug Being Reported Locally

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Federal Health officials say a nasty stomach bug is sweeping the nation and it's making a lot of people sick.

It's called the norovirus.

It's highly contagious and can have some pretty painful symptoms.

This nasty little virus is showing up quite a bit in our area.

The Scott & White Clinic in College Station is seeing quite a few cases.

While we don't have an exact number, Scott & White Healthcare officials say they were testing last month and had so many positive results that they haven't been testing this year.

It's hard to say how bad the illness is locally because the Health Department doesn't keep records or have official reports of it.

Doctors say the new strain of stomach bug is highly contagious.

Doctor Don Gehring is staying busy at the Scott & White Health Clinic in College Station.

But lately there's been a new bug patients are catching called the norovirus.

Just last week he says around seven patients in a row had it.

"It's a new strain of a virus which causes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, chills. It makes people very sick. They get very dehydrated. At-risk groups would be younger children, infants, older people if they are older than 65," said Dr. Don Gehring, D.O., Senior Staff Physician for Scott & White Healthcare.

Just last month nearly 100 passengers caught the virus on board a Princess Cruise Ship. The ship had to be sanitized in Galveston. Joyce Mills was one of those passengers.

"You couldn't ask for better care. They have a nice medical staff, the nurse came to my room because I didn't need to go down, but if you're really ill they have doctors," said Mills during a December 22, 2012 interview after the ship docked in Galveston.

"Close contact, lack of hand washing. It's very contagious and it's responsible for, this new strain is responsible for 53 percent of the cases that we are seeing. So it's the leading cause of the gastroenteritis in the United States, U.K. and Australia so far," added Dr. Gehring.

The CDC says hundreds of cases have been reported across the U.S. with the strain spreading rapidly from this past September to December.

"There's not really something that actually treats the virus or prevents it. It's just one of those things that's out there that we have to deal with symptomatically, " said Gehring.

While there is no immunization to prevent the virus, doctors do recommend you visit them if you are having persistent symptoms.

They can prescribe medication for nausea and also help you re-hydrate to prevent a hospital visit.

The norovirus can quickly spread in places like nursing homes and schools too, but Bryan and College Station ISD's tell us they've had no confirmed cases as of now.