New stomach virus surfaces in Ohio


Just as a nationwide flu epidemic appears to have leveled off in Ohio, a new strain of stomach virus has surfaced in state with the potential to spread quickly, according to state health officials.

The state already is experiencing “moderately heavy” levels of the norovirus, which can cause severe diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and stomach cramping, said Tessie Pollock, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Health.

But the new strain, dubbed GII.4 Sydney after the Australian city where it was first identified earlier this year, has the potential to boost the number of norovirus outbreaks at an alarming rate.

The new strain is now responsible for about 60 percent of norovirus outbreaks nationwide, about three times the number of outbreaks caused by the new strain in September, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday.

The new strain has been detected in at least four cases in Ohio but is still a small fraction of the 31 norovirus outbreaks reported in the state through mid-December, according to state health department figures.

“It is not known or clear how GII.4 Sydney will impact Ohioans,” Pollock said. “However, at this time, it is not causing more than the usual amount of outbreaks we see this time of year.”

CDC estimates that each year more than 20 million cases of acute gastroenteritis are caused by noroviruses. That means about 1 in every 15 Americans will get norovirus illness each year. Norovirus is also estimated to cause over 70,000 hospitalizations and 800 deaths each year in the United States.

Norovirus outbreaks typically piggyback on the flu season, which hit early and especially hard this year in Ohio, where there have been 3,081 flu-related hospitalizations and a handful of flu-related deaths since October, according to the latest state flu-activity report.

By comparison, there were no flu-related deaths and less than 100 hospitalizations reported over the same period in each of the previous two years.

Still, there are signs the flu viruses have begun to retreat.

There were were only two more hospitalizations last week (586) than in the previous week, and the most recent weekly figure was down 19 percent from the first week of the year, according to the flu report.

“It could be a temporary plateau, or we very well may have seen the peak of the flu season,” Pollock said. “But we won’t know for awhile.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in News

Civil rights activist, comedian Dick Gregory dies weeks after local performance
Civil rights activist, comedian Dick Gregory dies weeks after local performance

Civil rights activist and comedian Dick Gregory died Saturday, his family confirmed in a social media post. He passed away at age 84 in Washington, DC., nearly three weeks after his one-night appearance earlier this month in the Miami Valley. The best-selling author and 1968 write-in presidential candidate performed Aug. 2 at the Dayton Funny Bone...
Civil rights activist Dick Gregory dead at 84
Civil rights activist Dick Gregory dead at 84

Noted comedian, actor and civil rights activist Dick Gregory has died at 84. His family confirmed the death Saturday through social media. Gregory was hospitalized with a serious but stable condition, his son Christian said Thursday. Gregory is survived by his wife Lillian and their 10 children.
Woman holding American flag dragged by protester in Boston
Woman holding American flag dragged by protester in Boston

The Boston “Free Speech” rally ended with 33 arrested and while police were very diligent about keeping the right-wing groups away from protesters, there were still isolated incidents of violence. A clip showed a woman holding an American flag as a protester tries to rip it from her hands. The woman held on to the flag and is dragged...
USS Indianapolis discovered after 72 years 
USS Indianapolis discovered after 72 years 

The wreckage of the USS Indianapolis, which was torpedoed and sank during the final days of World War II, has been found 18,000 feet below the north Pacific Ocean. The discovery was made Friday by a team of civilian researchers led by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, according to the billionaire’s website. "To be able to honor the brave...
Widow texts Pulse gunman alibi, deletes message night of attack, new court filing claims
Widow texts Pulse gunman alibi, deletes message night of attack, new court filing claims

Noor Salman is accused of helping her husband plan and carry out the June 12, 2016, attack on Pulse nightclub in Orlando, and a document filed by prosecutors this week is shedding new light on the case. The document filed Thursday lists specific instances that prosecutors intend to pursue during trial, and alludes to a text message allegedly sent by...
More Stories