If you’re feeling sick, it may not be the flu. It could be the “vomiting virus” — a strain of norovirus that originated in Sydney, Australia and struck New Zealand and France before sweeping the U.S.
Restaurants and long-term care facilities seem to be the easiest target for the strain that causes diarrhea, upset stomach, and — obviously — vomiting. The virus is often confused with influenza because of similar symptoms, but the “GII.4 Sydney” is a whole different animal.
NPR reports the strain, known as the “Ferrari of the virus field” mutates rapidly to defeat human immune systems. Plus, it only takes 20 particles of the virus to infect a person.
The Centers for Disease Control are as-yet unable to predict how hard the US will be hit by the virus, but say the normal peak for norovirus season is January. So we could be in the clear soon.
According to the CDC, norovirus is highly contagious. Each year around 21 million people in the U.S. are infected, resulting in about 800 annual deaths. Since there is no known treatment or vaccine, the CDC warns people to employ good hygiene techniques and use proper disinfectants when cleaning.