EXTRA! EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT! GI Virus Hits Northern Nevada


EXTRA! EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT! GI Virus Hits Northern Nevada


 

By Doris Dimmitt, Hospital Epidemiologist at Carson Tahoe Health

 

Now come on, you really didn’t think we could go without a good ol’ GI outbreak in the community for very long, did you?  It happens almost every year.  We are busy gearing up for influenza season by getting our flu shots and WHAM it hits us from out of nowhere!  This is also a time of year when I hear a lot of rumors going around about the flu shot causing the flu, so let’s take a look at our influenza vs. GI viral infection fact checker.

Remember, influenza is a respiratory infection. Sore throat, high fever, coughs, and horrible body aches    (even your hair hurts). The flu shot will help protect you from influenza. On the other hand, the so-called “stomach flu” which causes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea is caused by a number or other types of viruses and the flu shot will not protect you from these bad guys.  So in a nutshell, if you just got your flu shot and now have tummy issues, know that the two are not related, no way no how.

With that said, there is currently a nasty GI virus circulating in the community, and there is no information available to tell us if this is Norovirus or not.  If you are lucky enough to be visited with the GI symptoms listed above, it is very important to stay hydrated. This is especially important for the elderly and the little ones who can suffer from dehydration more so than the rest of the population.  Next, stay home. You cannot return to work or school until the symptoms have resolved for 48 hours. Wash your hands frequently, and switch to bleach disinfectant wipes for cleaning surfaces. Bleach wipes are available at most Super Markets.  Norovirus and its friends who cause the GI discomfort can be easily transmitted from person to person by what is called the “fecal oral route” (gross thought, but true).  The viral particles hang out for long periods of time on dirty hands, environmental surfaces, and contaminated food just waiting for an unsuspecting host to come in contact with them and inadvertently put them in their mouth.  The rest of the story you already know.  The takeaway message is keep your hands washed (no hand sanitizer) and keep things out of your mouth.  No pens, eyeglasses, paper clips, papers, etc.

Unfortunately there is no surefire way to completely eliminate your chances of catching any kind of infection, but if you follow these simple steps you can greatly reduce your risk.