TAMPA, Fla. — If you’ve had the stomach flu before, you probably hope you’ll never have it again. It seems many families across the country and in the Tampa Bay area are coming down with the dreaded illness. Local doctors are weighing in on what they’re seeing and how to help stay healthy.
Sarah Andrews knows getting sick one by one is no joke when she and her whole family, including her two kids, came down with the stomach bug.
“It was horrible. It was miserable. We all felt bad. My son was asking me to take care of him, and I couldn’t take care of him,” said Andrews.
“The stomach bug or the stomach flu, we’re usually referring to something called acute gastroenteritis, but there’s nothing cute about it,” said Dr. Meghan Martin. “They can be pretty miserable, and it’s a group of viruses and bacteria and sometimes food poisoning that can cause vomiting and diarrhea and nausea and sometimes some abdominal pain.”
Martin is a Pediatric Emergency Medicine Attending physician at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. She shared what they’re seeing right now.
"We’ve actually seen an increase in regular flu out of the season, and we’ve also seen a pretty significant increase in the gastroenteritis, so the stomach flu. A lot of them have been norovirus, which is a pretty common virus that causes pretty intense symptoms for a couple days,” said Dr. Martin. “A lot of times in kids, but also in adults, and a lot of times a kid gets sick and then passes it on to the rest of the family members.”
According to the CDC, from August 1, 2021 to March 5, 2022, there were 448 norovirus outbreaks reported by states that use the NoroSTAT network. During the same period last seasonal year, there were 78 norovirus outbreaks reported by these states.
“Once one person gets it, it’s easy to pass it on,” said Martin.
ABC Action News asked Dr. Martin if rolling back certain safety measures in some areas could factor into people getting sick too.
“That absolutely could play into it. Removing the masks and the precautions and maybe getting a little more lax with the hand washing and things like that could put us more at risk,” said Dr. Martin. “But COVID has actually thrown off a lot of the normal seasons that we would see.”
Martin says keep up with good hand washing and try to keep things clean to do your best to not be in bed with the bug too.
“It was just miserable, and I don’t ever want to have to deal with it again,” said Andrews.