New 'Stomach Bug' Hitting Oklahoma At Peak Of Flu Season
TULSA, Oklahoma - A new virus has Oklahomans calling in to work, and it's not the flu, although if you come down with it, you may think it is.
It's called the Australian Norovirus, and doctors say it can keep you out from work for up to a week.
Right now, doctors don't have a vaccine for the norovirus. Although it shares some of the same symptoms as the flu, doctors say it's a different virus and should be treated differently.
The Australian Norovirus is popping up in parts of the Midwest.
"It hit like a bolt of lightning," said John Phillips.
Broken Arrow native Phillips said he's finally getting back to full strength, after battling it this past weekend.
"It was just relentless. I have never endured pain like that," he said.
The norovirus first showed up in the US last year, but now new reports of the bug are coming in right at the peak of flu season.
Dr. John Jennings, with the Utica Park Clinic, said it's something completely different than the flu bug.
"This is a new strain, and this new strain has nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea," Jennings said.
He said those symptoms are often associated with influenza, but the flu bug is mostly limited to fever, muscle aches, and coughing, where norovirus is a gastrointestinal illness.
The norovirus is often spread through direct contact with people who are carrying the illness, but it can also spread though food-born contamination.
Jennings said it's more common in the elderly, but if not treated properly, can be detrimental to anyone of any age.
"The biggest problem both with young and with old is dehydration and electrolyte imbalance," Jennings said.
"[I] lost seven pounds in 15 hours, so that should give you an indication of what was going on," Phillips said.
Dr. Jennings said, if you get the bug, drinking fluids and taking pain relievers are your best options, because there isn't a cure. But he said there are some things you'll want to avoid.
"You do not want to stop the diarrhea that comes along with it, because that is helping shed the virus," Jennings said.
And of course, get plenty of rest.
"Don't over-do it on anything. If you over-extend yourself and get overly tired, or overly fatigued, then you are at an increased potential of acquiring these viruses," Jennings said.
He said washing your hands thoroughly is still the best way to protect yourself and others, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.