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How Is Stomach Virus Spread: Doctors Warns of Highly Contagious Norovirus on the Rise in Midwest

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02/17/2023
abc7chicago.com

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A nasty stomach virus is on the rise in our area. It's something some may have already experienced but is also something others should watch out for.

Dr. Allison Bartlett is a pediatric infectious disease specialist with UChicago Medicine. She warns that hand sanitizer may not be enough to kill this virus.

"The Purrell that we've gotten so good at using during the pandemic is not as effective as good old fashioned soap and water soap, and water hand washing is really critical to interrupt transmission," Dr. Bartlett said. "And so is bleach-based cleaning products."

The CDC reports the Midwest had the highest average test positivity rate for norovirus as of Saturday, at over 19% - higher than any other week in the last year

"Additionally the CDC explains people with norovirus can shed billions of norovirus particles. And it only takes a few particles to get others sick."

"It is incredibly contagious," Dr. Bartlett said. "It's definitely been shown, for example, if you throw up, some of the viral particles get aerosolized and you can breathe them in."

"A lot of time, it tears through a house where baby will have it and within a day, anybody else who is in the house will get it as well," said Dr. Scott Goldstein, with Northwestern Children's Practice.

Dr. Goldstein has seen an increase in stomach virus cases in the last month. He recommends parents to keep their sick kiddos hydrated but be patient.

"You want them to eat and drink when they are feeling they can eat and drink, and that's usually when they've gone a decent about of time without any vomiting," he said.

Another expert emphasizes most patients with norovirus get better on their own, but if a patient - especially young children --- becomes dehydrated, listless and are not making tears or going to the bathroom -- parents should check with your child's doctor.

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