What's Going Around: stomach bug, herpes encephalitis, flu

What's Going Around: stomach bug, herpes encephalitis, flu

Do you ever hear that a friend or family member is sick, followed by a statement like, "Yep, that's going around!"

That conversation is what led us to launch a new weekly health segment you will see Wednesday nights at 10:00 and Thursday mornings at 6:40 called, "What's Going Around."  I will talk to the medical staff at local hospitals and clinics to find out what they are treating, plus what you can do to keep your family as healthy as possible.

Dr. Timothy Haman is an infectious disease physician at CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospital.  He says several people have been stuck in bed with the norovirus.  It is something you have heard reported with outbreaks on cruise ships.  This stomach bug packs a big punch.

Norovirus is transferred person-to-person and most commonly with children in daycare settings. There is no medication for it.  A person simply needs to hydrate themselves and get plenty of rest. Staying away from people that are sickened and frequent handwashing are the best ways to keep it from spreading.

Something that is much more rare, but has been seen locally over the past few months comes from the same virus that causes people to develop cold sores. It is exhibiting itself in a much stronger form: herpes encephalitis.  "In some cases it can get into the spinal fluid and cause inflammation around the brain and around the linings of the brain," said Dr. Haman, "it's usually mild and can be treated, but in some cases if it's left untreated, it can progress to severe disease and even death."

It was the flu dominating health headlines two months ago. Now, Southwest Louisiana is past the flu season peak.  Dr. Haman says we are still slightly above the national average with about three percent of the population experiencing flu-like symptoms.

It is not too late to get the flu shot, because you can develop flu year-round.

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