As flu season is well underway, so is the stomach flu…
Winter is the time for influenza and as the flu season continues, State health officials want to remind Hoosiers that’s it’s also the season for the stomach flu season. Norovirus is not actually influenza; however, both may be prevented by taking measures to protect yourself.
This season, health officials are reporting that a new strain of norovirus has appeared. This new strain, called GII. 4 Sydney. This strain has reached Indiana and is overtaking others to become the dominant strain. Most people will be at risk to this new strain; however, it does not carry worse symptoms than others.
“With so much discussion regarding this flu season, it is important for Hoosiers to understand there is a difference between influenza and what is commonly called the stomach flu,” said State Health Commissioner William VanNess II, M.D. “Knowing the difference can help prevent both illnesses.”
Norovirus infection, also known as viral gastroenteritis, is not the flu at all but a viral infection of the intestinal tract. It is spread through eating or drinking contaminated food or drink or by close contact with an infected person.
Norovirus is more common in the late fall through winter, but infections and outbreaks can occur any time of year. This virus is very contagious and easily spread by infected people, contaminated food or drinks or touching contaminated surfaces.
“Flu shots do not protect against norovirus,” said Dr. VanNess. “However norovirus prevention is similar to flu prevention in the need to frequently wash hands, disinfect contaminated surfaces, wash soiled clothing and avoid preparing food if you’re not feeling well.”
Influenza, by contrast, is a viral infection of the respiratory tract. It is spread by respiratory droplets from close contact with infected persons or contact with contaminated surfaces or objects. Infection can occur when influenza viruses contact the eyes, mouth or nose, and possibly through inhaling droplets from a sneeze or cough. Sometimes people may become infected by touching surfaces or objects contaminated with influenza viruses and then touching their eyes, mouth or nose.
Information From: The Indiana State Department of Health