While the nation is on the lookout for the worst influenza strain to crash ashore in more than a decade, there is another potent and hard-to-kill stomach virus hunched in the tall weeds of American society and it can strike its prey easier than the flu bug.

It is called the norovirus, better known as the stomach virus. Given the name GII.4 Sydney because it is imported from Australia, the new norovirus, or stomach virus, is said to cause severe gastrointenstinal problems, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps.

“It’s nasty,” said Kennedy Health System’s chief medical officer Dr. David Condoluci, an infectious disease specialist. “Basically, you go through about 24 to 48 hours of hell.”

The illness is notorious for causing dehydration because its victims fail to replenish their body fluids quickly enough to replace the discharged liquids.

Condoluci says people have mistakingly called it the influenza virus, better known as the flu, which caused high fever, relentless coughing, body aches and respiratory complications.

Physicians said that the norovirus, which is currently wrecking havoc in some parts of New Jersey, according to the Jersey Star Ledger, is much easier to catch, harder to kill and packs a wallop on its victims. However, while it is not usually deadly, it can be for those with other medical complications, the very young and old, and also those with a compromised immune system.

Unlike influenza or other viruses that require ingesting hundreds or thousands of particles of the virus to get sick, the norovirus takes less than 20 norovirus particles to get hit with the illness.

“That’s a tiny amount. It’s like saying if you have a poison, if you take one picogram it will kill you. It’s just 18 viral particles, it’s like nothing,” Dr. David Kaufman, chief of infectious disease at South Jersey Healthcare. “The virus is very good at surviving in a whole bunch of environments, foods, surfaces, water. It’s a very transmissible disease,” Kaufman said. “It means it doesn’t take much, and it’s easy to catch.”

Medical practitioners implore the public to wash their hands very, very thoroughly. Also, if a person in your household comes down with the norovirus, it is very important that they use separate facilities to use the bathroom and wash, if possible. The norovirus comes out in massive doses in stool.

Thankfully, Condoluci said, that the norovirus doesn’t last as long as the flu, perhaps 24 to 48 hours, while Kaufman said the populace should be thankful that the virus is not more harmful.

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