You may know someone hit by the current stomach bug wave.
It is not the flu – it’s another misunderstood common stomach ailment – the Norwalk virus.
“Hospitals are a germfest, there is always something going around at my hospital. I know there is an outbreak of the Norwalk virus,” says Charnel Johnson, a registered nurse at Victoria Hospital in London, Ont.
The Norwalk virus and other similar viruses are not life threatening. According to Johnson, the Norwalk is very common.
The province’s monthly infectious report says the term ‘flu’ refers to the influenza virus, a respiratory illness.
Known as Norovirus, it is a viral gastroenteritis, which the common name is the winter vomiting disease or stomach flu.
Common symptoms of the Norwalk virus are severe headaches, vomiting and diarrhea. It usually lasts one to three days.
“It felt like I was going to die at some points. Constantly vomiting all the time,” says Emmanuel Pobee, 23.
According to province’s infectious report, the virus can live on surfaces for several weeks. The virus can live under hot and cold conditions up to 60 degrees Celsius.
“Basically feces of an infected person which can be transmitted when their hands are not washed properly,” says Johnson.
The virus is easily transmitted by contact with someone already infected or a contaminated surface. According to Johnson, the virus is spread in hospitals through nurses not doing proper sanitation.
“Once you have it, you have to stay hydrated because you will be losing a lot of fluid and electrolytes,” said Louvena Mallari, an operational nurse at Queensway Trillium Hospital.
Section C2 at Credit Valley Hospital, in Mississauga went under quarantine when a mild outbreak of the Norwalk virus broke out last Thursday.
All staff and visitors when entering the hospital advise proper sanitation practices. Sanitation stations are posted at various locations at hospitals.
“Taking multivitamins, eating foods rich in calcium, potassium, magnesium (bananas, spinach, broccoli). Gatorade is perfect because it is filled with electrolytes,” Mallari says.