If you're hoping to stay healthy, it's not just influenza that you should be on the lookout for. State health officials are warning about the new strain of a potentially deadly virus that's hitting the area.
The Good Samaritan Society Sioux Falls Center has a notice on its door asking all visitors to postpone their visit if they're feeling sick. One of the viruses they're most concerned about is the Sydney Strain of norovirus, a type of stomach flu.
"Most doctors would say it has a very high attack rate, which means it can hit suddenly and you can become very ill," Good Samaritan Society Infection Preventionist Angie Beek said.
The symptoms of norovirus infection usually include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and stomach cramping.
In the United States, norovirus is the number one cause of acute stomach flu. While you may not view the stomach flu as a severe threat, around 800 Americans die from the virus every year.
People like Sandi Bronson are more at risk for serious complications. Norovirus hits the elderly, young children and people with other health conditions especially hard. 68-year-old Bronson is staying at the Good Samaritan Society after having back surgery.
"You become a little more precautionary when those kinds of things are going around," Bronson said.
Staff at the Good Samaritan Society make sure they use hand sanitizer and wash their hands often. If a patient gets sick, they also limit that person's exposure to others.
"[We are] making sure our staff are staying healthy. If they aren't, they're staying home," Beek said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, that's especially important with this new strain. More than half of the norovirus outbreaks reported during the last four months of 2012 were from the Sydney Strain.
"If your symptoms have stopped in 24 to 48 hours, you can still be very contagious for at last a couple days after the virus," Beek said.
That’s why Bronson is being extra cautious, not only for her health but for her loved ones.
"We're grandparents, and we have little ones, and that's a very big concern," Bronson said.
While the virus can be deadly, for most people the illness runs its course in a bout one to two days. If you become infected with this strain of the nororvirus, you can start to feel ill as early as just 12 hours later.
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