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

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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.

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© Copyright 2014 Janelle Vaesa, MPH, All rights Reserved. Written For: Decoded Science
Decoded Everything is a non-profit corporation, dependent on donations from readers like you. Donate now, and keep the great information coming!

Comments

  1. July 27, 2014
    New Hampshire stomach virus is extreme. People are fine then suddenly vomiting uncontrollably, in extreme pain with severe nausea. Then diarrhea, gas, bloating, headache and low grade temp lasting well over a week. Last I saw this type of sudden onset was 8 years ago and it made local news. My husband(who never gets sick) was in bed moaning for two days. Stay home and stay away from people. Not sure how it is transmitted. Day 5 and he is still in pain and barely eats anything.
    Makes me wish we didn’t watch so many zombie movies! PS CDC has no updates on this that I can find.

  2. Friday night i felt a little off…was falling asleep while sitting up…saturday morning i was completely out of it and couldnt get up and moving around…i vomited then went to sleep several times …by 2pm the stomach pain and fever caused me to have lapses in time …i was in pain burning up throwing up had explosive mucous type diarrhea and was very confused…it continued on sunday then to monday…finally went to er on tuesday…was diagnosed with gastroenteritis…im on day 5 now and the stomach cramps are very intense and still having some diarrhea…i really wish this would end…definitely by far the worst flu ive ever encountered…dont wish this on my worst enemy

  3. Karen G says:

    My stomach felt like it caught on fire, like a hot knife, in my upper belly. That was three days ago. In bed a lot and have a fever off and on around 99. Now it is moving south in my stomach. However, no vomiting, and no diarrhea, really not much BM really. I am eating some and drinking as much as I can. I guess this is the Sydney strain. I really really hope mine doesn’t last so long…..this 4 days has been really awful. The pain in my stomach never goes away. No relief. It worries me a little. I’m 50 and not in great health. Sick with an unknown fever in hospital for 4 days a few months ago and then bladder cancer treatment early this year. Oh what a year. My garden is going to under. Tomorrow is my Birthday, and if I got what I wanted I would have my garden tended and some nice trimming around. I cant stay out of bed long, lay there and hold my tummy. Watch some tv. Oh well……glad I’m not alone too! N/W Kentucky here, just out of IN. Take care all!

    • Ginny Stroud says:

      Well seems to have reached UK. I have had uncontrollable liquid disrrhea for two days, luckily so far no vomiting. I have lost five pounds in those days. I have spoken to two friends who are in their second and third respective weeks (one has lost one and a half stone) The only advice (telephone) GPs are giving is eat bland foods, and drink, but not anything fruity or fizzy. I don’t blame them for staying away from us “plague” victims but this seems to be an epidemic which is not being made public. This morning my husband is experiencing the first symptoms: awful stabbing pains in upper stomach and initial loose stools. At the moment I have got onto the lower gut cramping, but still liquid stools. My husband described it well when he said that it feels like your entire digestive system is emptying and you have no bowels inbetween. Hope you get well – my doctor did say that it can last a week or more. I am taking amino acids (L-glutamine) which heals the gut and helps diarrhea – its a natural occurring body product given to people weak after chemotherapy, but also good for general digestive health.

  4. Last Thursday 6/26/2014 I developed a head cold sneezing alot sore throat. Then by Friday I had full blowin body flu. I was achy all over,had chills and headaches.. but no temp. I slept for those 2 days. when i went outside the light hurt my eyes heat really bothered me. by Sun. aches were gone but still tired coughing. I still have a head cold blowing my nose alot . Today is Wednesday 7/2/2014 Starting to feel a little better. Plus I pray alot too. I know Jesus is our healer! Believe on what our miracle God will do for you! Hope everyone feels better soon!

  5. SicklyMel says:

    This is day 3 for me! It’s not been too bad…. yet. Thursday I was fine. Friday I woke up and felt off. Like completely weird and just unwell. Then I had horrible diarrhea and nausea. Now the diarrhea is gone but anytime I eat or drink I’m horribly nauseated and I’m extremely gassy too. I got so worried though as I’ve not been able to really eat since Thursday. I’m drinking tons of fluids and munching on crackers when I can. Went to the doctor and her husband had it and on day 5 is finally getting better. He like me didn’t have it bad…. but it’s very very unpleasant. If my symptoms change I’ll update and let you know how it changed.

  6. Lisa Botts says:

    This nasty virus lasted for 11 days for me. Don’t give up hope, but DO get rest and drink fluids. I was so spread thin with my work (end of year teaching), my kids’ school year ending and a daily All Stars baseball schedule at night that my body couldn’t fight it off. Once I took a day to rest, I got better.

  7. Michelle says:

    Ocala, FL – day eight and there is a light at the end of the tunnel, I hope. The cramping is what really gets to me. No more vomiting, only pooped four times today, and good energy level. But it feels like my stomach is occasionally cramping around an acid-dipped rock. This stuff is EVIL.

  8. It has been 9 days. First three days just a bad stomach ache. By the 4th day thought I was getting over it and by that afternoon I was throwing up ….viciously throwing up…at least 10x. This is the kind that you can’t catch your breath and you can’t stop…my stomach was burning horribly. The burning is the entire stomach region…not one particular area. I have had a low grade fever (99), minor diarrhea, just the worst stomach ache you could ever imagine. 5th day…feeling slightly better…still pain in stomach, but not throwing up. 6th Day left on a plane for a business trip….was okay until the afternoon and then the throwing up started again! At that point….all night long. The pain in my stomach was horrendous. 7th Day …woke up okay (went to business meeting) Then the pain in the stomach started again in the afternoon 10x worse then all the previous times. It was so bad that I thought I was going to pass out from the pain. I was laying in my hotel room, my breathing was labored, I could barely talk and had the worst pain you could imagine (maybe worse than when I had my kids). The issue is…it is not off/on…the pain is constant. It feels like you have acid sitting in the bottom of your stomach. I called the front desk (thank goodness it was the Hilton) there shuttle took me to the Hospital-ER. At this point I COULD HAVE called an ambulance I was in that much pain….crying the entire way to Hospital. They hooked me up to an IV, 2 doses of morphine to stop the pain and anti throw-up meds. A CT Scan, blood & urine test later…. they ruled out everything else. This is the worst sickness I have ever had in my life!!

  9. In pain says:
  10. Tampa, FL, has it. I’m finishing day 5. The first few days the diarrhea was violent. I thought I was feeling better around day 2 or day 3 and then bam…. back to where I started. I just went to the doctor today. He said liquid diet for one day and then the BRAT diet. He also mentioned Probiotics. I’ve started Probiotics in my system and no solid food today (still having diarrhea). The only other sympton was nausea. I did vomit one time (Day 2 or 3). After reading everything and talking to my doc, I’m going to stick with the liquid diet for another day or two and focus on keeping myself hydrated.

  11. cherlyn says:

    June 16 This is the worst thing I have had in years. First week stomach cramps.
    second week couldn’t get away from the bathroom, felt I needed diaper. Didn’t throw up thank goodness. third week still have to stay close to bathroom never know when it is going to happen. If you were in 70 or above this could kill you. Friend was in hospital then she came home. the only way I could of gotten this is by touching her door at her house. She wasn’t home but her germs were, bad stuff

  12. Had this virus now for 10/11 days. Spent this past Friday night at the hospital to have an I.V. for hydration. If anyone reads this & you suspect you have this, (Stay home) do not spread it & make sure you give yourself a chance to “completely” get over this. I was feeling better a week ago & “thought” i was over it. Spent the day out and the next day it hit me twice as hard. Nothing to mess around with….. Bed rest, fluids-fluids-fluids, bland diet (broth, etc…) STAY HOME. I have lost approx. 12 pounds in 10 days, terrible virus!

    • This virus/ ???, is in western Kentucky.

    • Larry Launer says:

      Well I’m into day 11 , never got the vomits and mild other end stuff , first 2 days classic symptoms , felt better on day 3 , then day 4 felt like the worst stomach gas bubble all time , The next 3 days solid pain , that last few days its mainly been night and morning cramping some lose stools and a bit of abdominal tenderness , I just wish this thing would pass on , its the worst I’ve ever had and the longest.

    • Larry Launer says:

      I’m on day 11 , had the classic stuff for 2-3 days , but day 4 it hit me with a vengenge , bloating , cramps etc , Never did throw up though ,

  13. My husband and I have 4 kids. In April my 8 yr old got it on a Tuesday. He had lots of vomiting and a little diarrhea. On Wednesday my 6 yr old got it. Vomiting & diarrhea. Thurs night, I had severe diarrhea. Watery BM every 30 mins. Early Friday, my husband and 16 yr old son had it. My 14 yr old daughter never got it! Almost 2 months later, she has diarrhea and vomited once. I hope we don’t get it again. I’m praying it’s the same strain we had before so that our bodies are immune to it. This stomach virus is TERRIBLE!

  14. I too am suffering with this stomach bug. My stomach starting having spasms which lasted almost the whole illness. I vomited maybe twice during both bouts with it. But it was repetitive vomiting. You barely can breathe between episodes. The first time I slept the whole day. It lasted maybe 8 hours. Followed by leg pain. This last bout lasted longer, I ran a fever, slept like crazy. I had this virus two times over a two week period. I caught it from my grandsons who attend daycare. Drink lots of water

  15. Amari Harland says:

    This is my third day with this virus and it is horrible .. the stomach cramps are so serve that its hard for me to sleep. Cant eat anything but I feel like I need to eat . Chicken broth will help , my doctor said even if I can’t eat it , make myself eat it. She also told me to drink plenty fluids so I bought a pack of powerades . This is day three and I dnt feel as bad as I did but I still feel horrible .. if u can’t prevent yourself from gettin this please do soo .. cramps and bloatin is the worst thing about it . I wouldn’t even wish this on my worst enemy !!

  16. I have had this since Monday 5/19/2014, it is horrible ! I have had severe nausea , dirreah and severe cramps I am on day 4 ! I feel like I need to eat and try a cracker and as soon as I eat it in doubled over with cramps! I have low blood sugar and need to keep something in my stomach ! Please tell me when this will end ?

    • This is from Phoenix AZ. On Tuesday I woke up feeling tired and “green around the gills”. I’m a massage therapist and never want to work on clients when I’m sick, but I saw 2 clients that day, not knowing I was sick. My mouth became dry, I felt somewhat nauseous, and I quickly realized I needed to go home for the day. Later, I developed chills, a slight fever (only the 1st day) and runny diarrhea (which lasted 3 days). I thought I was feeling better on Saturday, but that night, my legs and hips hurt equally on each side and were sore to the touch. On Sunday, I had cold sweats again that morning and felt woozy, although no diarreah. This is the strangest thing.mI’m still not well enough to work. I think I caught it from a client who wss complaining of the same hip and leg pain I had. People really should realize that unexplained body aches are associated with illness much of the time and just stay home. Things spread because no one wants to lay low long enough to get well. I’ve lost so much money by canceling clients that it will be hard to make up for the loss.

  17. I feel badly for all of you, and I am so glad that I didn’t get the WORST version of this stomach bug, because the following has been my 2013/ 2014 “school year”/ Flu Season ordeal, so far:

    * Summer-End of the year 2013: Extensive play rehearsals
    * Summer 2013: Pacemaker implanted
    * Dec 1-roughly the end of the year: The flu that took me away from the play (Fever, 2 fainting episodes within 5 hours, sinus issues, coughing fits that were so bad that I had to hold my ribs, etc.)
    * Mid-March: Heart valve surgery
    * This month: The Stomach Flu…Between early last Thursday morning, and Friday afternoon (?), I was bent over a bucket…repeatedly…unable to stop, and I’m a LOUD, angry patient, too, so I was miserable. Somebody else from my family had fallen ill on about the 13th, and I’d been cleaning the sinks, etc., out for them. After I fell ill, we were ALL ill, and, at one point during Friday, we were all just lying about…on the floor…where I’d spent my sick time with the first family member who had been ill; they were caring for me, when they were barely well themselves!

    This has got to have been the…worst…stomach…flu that I’ve ever had. I only had one instance of a runny BM (Thank goodness, because I was so icked out about that, but it seemed to hit everybody from my family EXCEPT for me!), but I was hit with a low-grade fever, some nausea, persistent stomach discomfort, and true chest pain.

    I was terrified about the prospect of becoming dehydrated, and I was panicking about the fact that I could only have fluids (H20 and 7 UP). I requested some food, but it all came up later, anyway, and my family’s reassurance that the barfing would only last for about 24-hours proved to be wrong, as I was bent over a bucket for longer than anybody else from my family. I could never even sense exactly when I was going to be ill; I just had to keep lying there, on the floor, waiting…sleeping whenever I could…and awakening to bend over the baking soda-and-water-filled bucket again…just in case…

    I’ve heard that this stomach flu takes sooo much out of you…for days and days after it’s gone. I feel as though I’m trying to make up for a serious lack of food. I only hope that the burping that occurs during the recovery time doesn’t come to anything other than burping…

    • I have had this stomach virus for 5 days now. I feel better, but i am so exhausted. Funny you should say that about the burping, i have been doing that as well. I have seen where one person said her hip was hurting severely it was my chest that hurt me the most & my fever topped out at 103. Anyway, i hope we all get over this quickly.

  18. RockyRacoon says:

    Get some pro biotics into your system and try oil of oregano a few drops in a glass of water it is antibiotic and antiseptic I would try garlic pills as well they have antibiotics in them and these viruses are not used to the natural types of antibiotics but immune to the one’s on the market. From this description one can’t tell if this is viral or bacterial. ” gastroenteritis is that it generally goes away on its own, especially if it is caused by a virus” so is it sometimes not? I put this in before someone said antibiotics don’t work on virus. blah blah

  19. This is day eight for my wife, she is so paranoid with the diarrhea that I went to the pharmacy and bought her some Depends and baby wipes in caese she has another accident while driving to work.this is after spending three days in the hospital being pumped full of IV meds

  20. (Atlanta area) I woke up early Saturday morning and immediately threw up. It’s been approximately 65 hours and this thing is going strong. Symptoms: vomiting the 1st 24hours. Then the diarrhea, nausea, dizziness, back pain came. Horrible! I still have every one of those symptoms minus the vomiting. Now I also seem to be uncomfortably bloated, and gassy. I just wAnt it to stop!!!!!! I just want to cry and sleep. This sucks. Just wanted to post in case others in the Atlanta areA are having the same symptoms. I’m trying to gauge if this is “going around.”

    • Richard Grubb says:

      Central Ohio –

      Beginning on Monday May 12th, 2014, my son and I displayed extreme nausea, overwhelming fatigue, and body aches Monday and Tuesday.

      On Wed the fatigue and aches left, but I developed EXTREME bloating and gas followed by relentless acidic liquid diarrhea that literally would require a trip to the bathroom every 15 to 30 minutes (if I was lucky to last that long!) Nausea was still present but I believe this was due to my intestines feeling so distended and noisy/gassy.

      Thursday my bowel movements were still constantly every 15 to 30 minutes, but just foamy/loose. Not pure liquid, but nothing solid. Still very gassy and bloated.

      Friday much of the same as Thursday.

      As of this posting, today is Saturday, and I still have a very loose stool but have only gone twice in 6 hours. Gas is less constant, but the bloating has began to subside and I finally feel like I have room to breath again.

      No change in diet helped my symptoms (clear liquids, BRAT, ect) nor did medication (Pepto, Tums, Imodium, gas-x)

      I hope anyone who gets this has vacation or sick leave to afford to deal with this!

      • My stomach issues started on Wednesday May 7th 2014. Is this a coincidence? It started as cold chills and excruciating abdominal pain. I thought that I had the flu. I stayed in bed miserable all weekend. I went to urgent care on Sunday May 11th (terrible way to spend Mother’s Day) and the doctor said that I had a virus. When I returned to work I had heard that many people shared similar symptoms as I had. But what is causing this outbreak? Does anyone really know? The symptoms seem to come and go now. Week 3.

    • I’m glad to see I’m not alone with this nasty virus here in Atlanta. I started off on Monday 5/19 feeling a little lightheaded. By Tues morning, I was so lightheaded and nauseated that I couldn’t drive. My husband took me to the doctor when I couldn’t stop vomiting all day Tues and into Wed. The doctor sent me to urgent care for IV fluids and Zofran which helped. Thurs I vomited but not as much. Friday and Today, 5/24 I just have a little diarrhea but the lightheaded ness is really bad. How long does this terrible stomach virus last???

  21. My 19 daughter started getting sick on 5/1/14 and it is 5/9/14 and she is still sick. She has immune issues and went to dr. yesterday. Advised Zantac 150 for the burping, indigestion and other. It seems to have helped a bit. Zantac 150 2 x day, then if not better add Prilosec both to take to soothe the digestinal track. And yes, she had the blood in the stool. Awful stomach ache, headaches, fever of 99.1-99.7 (normal for her is 97.6) so this is a fever. Hard time thinking clearly, very tired, no energy. In the beginning she never did throw up, but heaved, but diarrhea. She did eat the most today. Soups, rice, toast, pedialite and water are better than sports drinks. We are in the DFW area. From what I understand it is going around.

  22. Horriblevirus says:

    My daughter had constant diarrhea for 8 days. She is six, it was very scary. She had labs and tests done still waiting on results. she ran a 103.5 fever on day 7 then by day 9 she was back to normal.

  23. Hey been there ive had this thang two times this year already…i agree i wouldnt wish this on anyone …hope your feeling
    Better ginerale and jello help me when i was to scared to eat
    Sincerly Jen

  24. 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..

    • #pukinmygutsup says:

      That’s exactly how it’s been for me. Im on day 4. If I have to endure this for a whole 3 weeks I dont think I’ll make it.

      • It gets better slowly
        Just drinl water
        Gingerale helps to if you like
        It start that with jello when u
        Feel brave…it doesnt make your
        Stomach turn…hope you feel better
        Soon

  25. 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.

    • TheChiChic says:

      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.

  26. Beadgirl says:

    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.

  27. 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.

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

    • 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.

  29. 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 says:

      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.

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