UMDNJ Physician Advises on What to Do for the Norovirus
“Vomiting virus” sickens hundreds in Northeast
STRATFORD — Emergency rooms in New York City are seeing hundreds of extra cases of “vomiting virus” and public schools in some parts of Connecticut have been forced to shut down early for the Christmas holidays because of the outbreak of the illness there.
“Vomiting virus, stomach flu, and 24-hour virus are all common terms for norovirus, an illness the strikes suddenly and can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, head and muscle aches and a slight fever,” said Dr. Frank Filipetto, vice chairman of Family Medicine at the UMDNJ-School of Osteopathic Medicine. “The close contact that people have this time of year makes a fertile environment for the spread of the virus. People with it will feel terrible, but norovirus is not a serious illness. Dehydration from vomiting and diarrhea is a prime concern, however, particularly with young children or older adults.”
Dr. Filipetto recommends focusing on preventing dehydration as a first line of treatment. Those who are sick with norovirus should get plenty of rest and be encouraged to drink plenty of liquids, with half-strength juice or water being the preferred choices. Although soda and sports drinks have little or no nutritional value, they can be used if the individual is unable to tolerate the preferred liquids. Over-the-counter, non-aspirin pain reliever like acetaminophen may be used for fever and body aches.
“It’s important to practice good prevention when norovirus is prevalent,” Dr. Filipetto said. “The virus spreads through contact with infected individuals or surfaces contaminated with the virus. Individuals are contagious from the moment they begin to feel ill up to 72 hours after they have recovered. Some individuals, however, will remain contagious for up to two weeks after they have recovered.”
Because a virus is responsible for norovirus, antibiotics (which work against bacterial infections) will not cure it and no anti-viral medications are effective against it. Norovirus is not related to the flu, which is a respiratory illness and for which an effective vaccine exists.
To request an interview with Dr. Filipetto, please contact Jerry Carey, UMDNJ News Service, at (856) 566-6171 or (973) 972-3000.
The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) is the nation's largest free-standing public health sciences university with more than 5,500 students attending the state's three medical schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and its only school of public health, on five campuses. Last year, there were more than two million patient visits to UMDNJ facilities and faculty at campuses in Newark, New Brunswick/Piscataway, Scotch Plains, Camden and Stratford. UMDNJ operates University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, a mental health and addiction services network.