An electron micrograph of the norovirus virus.
(Photo: Charles Humphrey, CDC)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that a new strain of norovirus has breached the U.S.
The strain was originally detected in Australia in 2012, according to the CDC.
"People in the United States and other countries also have been infected with the new strain," the CDC reports. "It is currently the leading cause of norovirus outbreaks in the United States.
The CDC also said that it is indeterminable whether the new strain will eventually cause more illness in coming years because it is still too early in the season to tell.
An epidemiologist with the CDC's division of viral studies said that when an arrival of a new strain is introduced to a population, an increase in infection occurs because people have never been exposed to it before.
Norovirus is an illness that affects the stomach and intestines and causes inflammation of both organs, known as gastroenteritis, and is the most common cause of it in the U.S., according to the CDC. The illness is estimated to infect more than 20 million people per year, causing over 70,000 hospitalizations and 800 deaths in the U.S.
Sometimes the disease is mistakenly called "stomach flu" but it is important to note that it has nothing to do with the virus that is concurrently sweeping the country.
But Hall stressed the fact that "there's no connection between them at all."
Symptoms of norovirus infection include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and stomach cramping---according to the CDC.
"Norovirus illness is usually not serious. Most people get better in 1 to 2 days. But, norovirus illness can be serious in young children, the elderly, and people with other health conditions," the CDC writes. "It can lead to severe dehydration, hospitalization and even death."
While there are no treatments available to treat the illness, the CDC recommends precautions to prevent infection:
- Wash hands with soap and water
- Carefully wash fruits and vegetables
- Do not prepare food while infected
- Clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces
- Wash laundry thoroughly