400 people a day are heading to hospital emergency rooms as stomach flu hits New York
BY KATHLEEN LUCADAMO
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Saturday, November 8th 2008, 11:08 AM
The winter stomach bug is on the move in New York, sending 400 people a day to emergency rooms for vomiting and diarrhea - a 19% jump in the last two weeks, the Health Department says.
Officials said the "norovirus," also known as the highly contagious stomach flu, usually lasts a few days, but they warned New Yorkers to wash their hands regularly to avoid the bug.
"Norovirus infection is a miserable experience, and can be serious if you become dehydrated," said Sharon Balter, a medical epidemiologist at the Health Department who called hand-washing "the best way to avoid it."
New Yorkers can contract the infection by sharing food or drinks with an infected person, coming into contact with their vomit, using their utensils or changing the diaper of a sick child, officials said.
The Health Department warned those who get the bug, particularly if they are children, to stay home and rest until the illness passes.
"If you get sick with diarrhea or vomiting, stay home so that you don't spread the infection to others," she said.
"Keeping sick kids home from school or day care is especially important."
There is typically a surge in stomach bug cases this time of year. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, stomach cramping, fever, chills, aches and tiredness.
The flu vaccine does not prevent the norovirus, and there are no specific treatments for recovery other than rest and drinking plenty of fluids. People who feel dehydrated as a result of the virus should go to a doctor or the hospital.