2014 Stomach ‘Flu’ – Powerful Sydney Strain’s Gastroenteritis Update

What caused your bout of the stomach flu? Image courtesy of the U.S. CDC

What caused your bout of the stomach flu? Image courtesy of the U.S. CDC

A powerful new strain of the stomach flu has emigrated from Australia: Sydney GII.4, and as a result, many Americans have been sick. Sydney is a stomach virus, sometimes called the stomach flu.

The ‘stomach flu’ is not the same as influenza, an upper respiratory illness. The stomach ‘flu’ is really gastroenteritis, and can result from a virus, parasite, or bacteria which spreads easily through contaminated food and/or water.

Sydney is this year’s major strain – researchers first discovered it in Australia in 2012.

Bacteria, Parasites, and Viruses

The types of bacteria that can cause gastroenteritis include Escherichia coli. Salmonella, Campylobacter, and Shigella. This type of bacteria is generally found in food, but infected people can easily spread their stomach illness if they’re not washing hands properly.

Viruses that cause gastroenteritis include adenoviruses, rotaviruses, calciviruses, astroviruses, and norovirus. The norovirus has been a popular virus that has been circulating the globe. You can pick up this lovely virus from contaminated food and water, or by touching contaminated surfaces. The GII.4 Sydney is a new strain of the norovirus that researchers first detected in 2012  - Sydney is currently the leading cause of norovirus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Gastroenteritis Symptoms

Gastroenteritis can cause painful bloating, nausea, vomiting, a low grade fever of 99 degrees Fahrenheit, and diarrhea. More serious stomach flu symptoms include vomit or diarrhea that contains blood, vomiting for more than 48 hours, a fever greater of 101 degrees Fahrenheit, abdominal swelling and pain in the lower right side of the abdomen. Gastroenteritis can result in dehydration, as well.

stomach-flu

Stomach Flu Update: Nationwide Issue

The CDC has warned the public that the Sydney strain of the norovirus is so strong this year that even hand sanitizers and some cleaning products are not enough to kill it. Doctors tell 14 News in Colorado that although it normally takes about 1,000 flu particles to make a person sick, with the Sydney strain, it only takes about 18 particles.

In Connecticut, doctors at Saint Francis Hospital have seen an increase in patients coming to the emergency room with the norovirus. Even a few of the University of Georgia football players have come down with the norovirus, three days before their big game at the Gator Bowl.

Norovirus and Stomach Flu: The Good News

The good news with gastroenteritis is that it generally goes away on its own, especially if it is caused by a virus. Jason Dees, DO, a family physician in New Albany, Miss., and a member of the board of director of the American Academy of Family Physicians tells WebMD, “ The nice thing about the GI tact is, most of the time the body is able to care for it. The body is trying to wash out the infection or irritation and return your GI tract to its happy state. When it’s trying to do that, you have to be nice to your body and give it hydration to do that.”

Just watch out for sports drinks that can contain too much salt or sugar – sometimes natural remedies for stomach flu are less stressful to your body. Generally within 24 to 48 hours, symptoms begins to subside, and within three to five days, your gastrointestinal tract begins to return to normal.

Prevent Stomach Flu – and Most Viruses

Preventing gastroenteritis is better than trying to treat it. Although it’s not always possible, there are some steps you can take to minimize your chances of catching the stomach flu – or even the swine flu – this year. Wash your hands before eating and after using the bathroom. Don’t forget to get plenty of rest, as well. If you do get sick, stay home -these few small steps can do a lot for you, and also help prevent the spread of the illness to others.

© Copyright 2014 Janelle Vaesa, MPH, All rights Reserved. Written For: Decoded Science
  • vince

    i dont know how to explain it, but everyone in my house has it, my girlfriend has it whom i kiss and hold daily, and i still show no symptoms. is it strange to be immune?
    not to mention that we all shared the same food, types of drinks, and utilities

  • William_S1

    People with a certain bloodtype is less likely to get it, in additon about 20% of caucusians have some sort of genetic mutations providing much stronger immunity to the Norovirus. I tend to catch this bug every 10 years or so, caught in 2012, before that I caught it in 2003. The symtoms I get tend to be pretty mild with vomiting only lasting for 5-6 hours so I may have some sort of immunity.

  • Mark

    Just finished with it..was brutal…I let it run it’s course rather than combat it with over the counter treatments ..

  • momma

    my 3 year old got sick all week last week puking all week then my 8 year old got sick on Friday couldn’t eat couldn’t drink just laid on the couch watching TV was not hungry for anything and then I woke up this morning and I’m sick now.

  • toni

    My baby grandson got it..this flu. my daughter and son in law and then we had a baby shower a family get together..ALL 12 of us got this flu..we all thought that it might be food poisining..except that not all of us ate. it seems like this flu attacked us at the same time.

  • Beadgirl

    I woke up feeling like I had been hit by a truck. Every bone and muscle in my body hurt so badly it actually brought tears to my eyes. That followed with diarrhea, vomiting and freezing. It’s been 48 hours now and I still feel woozy. I am wondering what people have been eating to get their dogestive system back to normal. I tried the brat diet, but I threw at up too.

  • Ellie

    Worst virus I’ve ever had. It has lasted six days and is just now getting better. I would advise not eating anything; just keep hydrated.

  • pitbull

    For me started off with burps awful smell
    Then cramps so bad i wanna to just curl up and cry for help 3 rd vomit like i have never in my life couldnt take breaths between..then diarrhea that last for almost
    3 weeks…i smelled like eggs no joke the worst stmoach pain next to labor thats how bad…i wouldnt wish this on any one at all . Lucky my kids have not shown
    Signs of this yet..

  • TheChiChic

    This is day 2 for me. At least the vomiting has stopped. The water diar, abdominal cramping, and headache continue. No appetite whatsoever … including NO energy. Sleep is the key.