A new strain of a highly contagious stomach virus from Australia is making lives miserable across the U.S., says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
This particular strain is now responsible for most (58%) of the norovirus cases being reported in the country, reports WebMD and USA Today.
The bug brings the usual symptoms associated with nausea, and it’s easy to catch, even by just touching an infected object.
The flu is a separate beast—“there’s no connection between them at all,” says a CDC epidemiologist—but its early start this year is helping deliver a nasty one-two punch in January. Newser
Norovirus is often to blame when large numbers of people get sick on cruise ships or in schools, nursing homes, and other places where people live, work, or play in close quarters. WebMD
Sickness from norovirus is often called “food poisoning,” but the highly contagious virus can also be spread by water, person-to-person contact, or simply by touching an infected object. WebMD
It’s not clear whether this strain is more likely to infect people or make them more ill than previous strains, but according to Aron Hall, an epidemiologist with the CDC’s division of viral diseases, any time a new strain emerges, it has the potential to increase disease “because people haven’t been exposed to it before, so they’re more susceptible.” USA Today
The norovirus season typically runs from November through March and peaks in January. USA Today
- New norovirus bug sweeps nation (usatoday.com)