A new stomach bug is spreading across the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced today that more than 140 outbreaks have been caused by a new strain of the norovirus, called GII 4 Sydney, since September.
Dr. Aron Hall, an epidemiologist at the CDC’s Division of Viral Diseases, said in a statement:
“The new strain spread rapidly across the United States from September to December 2012. The proportion of reported outbreaks caused by this strain increased dramatically from 19 percent in September to 58 percent in December.”
CBS reports that the new stomach bug has already been reported in places like Japan and Western Europe. It was first identified in Australia last year.
The CDC writes:
“In 2012, a new strain of norovirus was detected in Australia. It is called GII.4 Sydney. People in the United States and other countries also have been infected with the new strain. It is currently the leading cause of norovirus outbreaks in the United States. However, we do not yet know if the new strain will cause more norovorus illness than in other years. It is still too early in the season to tell.”
The norovirus can be dangerous to young children and elderly populations. Ian Goodfellow, a researcher at England’s University of Cambridge, said that the norovirus is easily transmittable and can work its way through large populations very quickly.
“It can sweep through an environment very, very quickly. You can be feeling quite fine one minute and within several hours suffer continuous vomiting and diarrhea.”
ABC reports that the new stomach bug is mainly spread by mishandled food. The disease can also be spread through the air.
If you happen to catch the norovirus, there’s really nothing you can do but wait it out. The CDC said that the new stomach bug should pass through your system in a few days.