New Norovirus strain, tied to 140 recent outbreaks, arrives in Tampa Bay

Stomach bug is more easily transmittable.

TAMPA - It's a stomach flu that hits hard and delivers brutal symptoms.

Dr. Douglas Holt, head of the Hillsborough County Health Department, says, "It starts off with achiness, not feeling well, tired.  Fevers may or may not be part of it, but the hallmark of it is vomiting and diarrhea."

Any strain of norovirus is easily transmittable and can be riskier for young children and the elderly, leading to hospitalization and even death.  These kinds of contagious bugs are often spread in places like schools, cruise ships and nursing homes. 

Dr. Holt says this new strain seems to be even smarter.  "It appears to be a little more transmittable, so it's spreading easier from person to person and the thing we worry the most about is it causes more severe illness so that the rate of hospitalization, the people who ultimately need medical treatment, seems to be greater than it is with other strains of norovirus.

Dr. Holt says there's been an outbreak in Hillsborough County but he couldn't give us numbers partly because there's no rapid test like the flu test to nail down a diagnosis. But many of you who responded to my Facebook post confirmed a nasty stomach bug is here. "Everyone is a little different, that's why we call it the 72 hour flu, or stomach bug, but people can have it for five to seven days."

There's no vaccine and no really good treatment but making sure you're hydrated is crucial and that Dr. Holt says is why most go to the ER - for an IV to treat dehydration.

If you think you've been slammed by the Syndey norovirus I want to hear from you. Just head over to my Facebook page.  Look for Linda Hurtado WFTS under pages.  I also asked the state health department if they're tracking the Sydney norovirus in our state.  I'll post a link they sent me with more information.

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