What's Going Around: Norovirus and C. diff

What's Going Around: Norovirus and C. diff
Dr. Kevin Schlamp, a family medicine physician in Sulphur, says norovirus and C. diff are What's Going Around this week. (Source: KPLC)

SULPHUR, LA (KPLC) - Another wave of the stomach bug is making people sick this week. Dr. Kevin Schlamp, a family medicine physician in Sulphur, says he is treating people of all ages for the bug in this week's What's Going Around.

The stomach bug, specifically Norovirus, is a highly contagious viral infection of the stomach and intestines.  Dr. Schlamp says he has seen a lot of it over the past week.

"It's had significant impact in places like the nursing home, but also in the community," he said.  "A number of patients have presented to the office and some of my staff has managed to pick it up, too."

Dr. Schlamp explains the classic symptoms of Norovirus:

"A headache, mild fever, and then you'll have some significant projectile vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, just a general feeling of listlessness and fatigue," he said.

The biggest concern is that vomiting and diarrhea can lead to dehydration.  Dr. Schlamp says you need to carefully monitor your liquid intake while battling the bug, sticking to drinks that contain salt.

"Like a Gatorade or a Powerade, because you sweat salt and water, you pee salt and water, you poop salt and water.  If you're only replacing it with water, you're going to lower your salts quite a bit and that's going to make you feel unhealthy," said Dr. Schlamp.

Norovirus spreads very easily when people do not wash their hands after using the bathroom and then touch a surface or food.

"A lot of times it will get in the food supply," said Dr. Schlamp.  "It being a virus, it doesn't grow in food, but the contamination of food will do that."

Dr. Schlamp also says he is seeing a rise in the number of C. diff cases, an overgrowth of bacteria that presents much like the stomach bug.

"It's an extremely hard bug to get rid of once you've got it and it occurs more in people who are immunocompromised, the older people," he said.

C. diff is most common in hospital settings and in people who have recently taken antibiotics.  Ironically, it is specific antibiotics to target C. diff that are the best way to get over it.

If you are experiencing nausea and vomiting, Emetrol is an over-the-counter medication that can help relieve symptoms.

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