Protect yourself from the norovirus

Braden Beagle, 5, and this twin brother Garret are flying high now, but during the holidays the boys were sick to their stomach.

"One son got it, and then the next son got it. My husband got it and then I got it all within a five day period," said Laurie Beagle.

"It wasn't that good," said Garret Beagle.

"They had severe vomiting, 8 or 9 times throughout the night," said Laurie Beagle.

"I couldn't eat, but I drank Gatorade and water," aid Braden Beagle.

"We've had a number of children out this year," said Sarah Atin, St. George's Preschool.

And schools like St. George's Preschool in La Canada say they've seen their share of the stomach bug -- more officially identified as the norovirus.

"I was hoping after Christmas break that it would slow down. Unfortunately, we came back and it seems like there is another strain going around," said Atin.

Hand washing helps, but the norovirus is a pretty tough bug. Health officials say it can live on surfaces such as toys or playground equipment up to 48 hours.

"It has a lot of common names though, winter vomiting disease. People used to call it Norwalk virus," said infectious disease expert, Dr. Roshan Reporter.

The worst fear is dehydration. Dr. Reporter says most people can recover at home. But if an elderly person or a young child can't keep in tiny amounts of fluid they should see a doctor.

"If it has been 24 hours and they are not urinating regularly, I would take my child in to be seen either by the physician or at the ER," said Dr. Reporter.

At the onset, hydration is more important than food. The illness runs its course in about three days. Doctors recommend ice chips, popsicles or a tablespoon of fluid every half hour. Above all take it easy.

"Get lots of rest. The kids got to watch a lot of 'Sponge Bob.'" said Laurie Beagle.

Again lots of hand washing and disinfecting of surfaces is important. In a typical year, 23 million people are infected and about 50,000 are hospitalized.

The Centers for Disease Control does not keep detailed numbers on the norovirus, but health officials say the increase in inquiries suggest higher than normal activity this year.



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