Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Stomach virus trumps flu shot

I am a germophobe. I am not ashamed of this, nor am I ashamed to admit that in response to the flu epidemic sweeping the nation, I recently fashioned an 80s “fanny pack” from my middle school days into a Lysol-can wielding holster, using its original zipper pouch to hold a 32-ounce bottle of hand sanitizer.

This comes in handy when out and about since I cannot very well sit in my sparkling clean home all of the time. I would be high on bleach fumes, and more importantly, I need to get out to Target at least four times a week.

I wash my hands (if dipping them in pure rubbing alcohol counts as washing), I take my vitamins, I exercise many times per week, and I receive my flu shot each year. Still, I was stricken down last week. All the spray bleach, Clorox wipes and disinfectant spray in the world did not keep me from the dreaded stomach virus.

Somehow, the little buggers permeated what I thought was my impenetrable germ shield I created in and around my home. Apparently, vomit germs trump all others.

I learned a few things during my 36-hour intestinal bout. During a 10 minute jag in which I felt somewhat human, I found myself googling fun facts about the stomach virus. It is often called the stomach flu, but it is not caused by the influenza viruses.

When I somehow managed to dodge the stomach bug even when surrounded by classrooms of elementary-school children who serve as hosts for all things viral and bacterial, I just wrote it off to the flu shot. I guess I was mistaken.

Thankfully, the stomach virus does not have the duration of the regular flu. The stomach virus comes on quick, has its victim chained to the porcelain throne for about 6-8 hours, then leaves behind a trail of aching muscles, a pounding head and a stomach that aches from being cleansed of its last five meals.

I also learned that although 36 hours may not seem like a long time, much havoc can be wreaked upon a home left overseen by a husband and 7 year-old boy. On one of my ventures down the stairs after feeling a tiny bit better, I was welcomed by three open cereal boxes, saltine crackers strewn about, pajamas and underwear on the living room floor, a front hallway bathroom that looked like someone tap danced in mud on the white tile, and a hamper that appeared to belong to a family of 12 rather than our family of three. This sight was almost as bad as the scene in the bathroom just hours before.

My last lesson was more of a reminder about the impact that this little sick day would have on my schedule. As mentioned earlier, many things happened to my home in the short time I spent holed up in my bedroom. Although I insanely spray bleached, Clorox wiped, and Lysol disinfected my bathroom after each stomach wrenching hurl, the rest of the house did not have my obsessive compulsive attention.

Just 36 hours after feeling like death was knocking on my door, I began a two-day cleaning spree in which every linen was washed in hot water and every hard surface was wiped or sprayed until it gleamed. Dog hair promptly got sucked up from the area rugs and corners while bills screamed at me to pay them. Plus I had work to do, like pay-the-bills work that didn’t get done while I was taking a sick day.

Perhaps the biggest lesson learned in all of this is sometimes, even when hugging the john and praying that an intestine doesn’t come up, crawling back into bed and letting someone take care of you is kind of nice. Even if it means you have to clean up after yourself.

A special thank you to hubby for taking care of me, even if the house was about to self-implode.




The Stomach Bug/Flu in Children: What Works & What Doesn’t

You know of it as the stomach bug or the stomach flu (even though it is technically not related to the actual flu). Medical doctors refer to it as gastroenteritis because it involves inflammation (which is what “itis” means in Greek) of the stomach (gastro) and small intestines (entero). The small intestine is the part of the intestine that takes in all of the nutrients the body needs.

Regardless of what you call this condition, it is not something you want to have. Common signs and symptoms include diarrhea, stomach pain, stomach cramps, and vomiting. It is a common reason for visits to the doctor, urgent care centers, and emergency rooms.

The stomach bug can occur in adults but it is very common in children. When it occurs in children, it is usually caused by a virus known as rotavirus. By age five, nearly every child in the world has been infected by rotavirus at least once.

In a new review study published in Europe, researchers presented a summary of the best evidence for treatment of acute gastroenteritis in children. The authors found that oral rehydration (drinking fluids by mouth) is central to treatment. Specific hypotonic solutions (composed of salt, sugar, and water) are used for this rehydration.

Although effective, oral rehydration is not always used because it does not decrease the amount of bowel movements, does not decrease the length of the illness, and the liquid is not something children enjoy due to the strong salty taste. There are continuing efforts to improve the taste and effectiveness of these liquids for children.

The authors found that the anti-diarrhea medication, Racecadotril (acetorphan) can be an effective additional treatment along with oral rehydration. The authors also noted that a natural clay known as smectite can be an effective additional treatment to oral rehydration. However, neither smectite nor Racecadotril are available for use in the U.S.

When oral rehydration is not feasible, another option is nasogastric rehydration. In this technique, fluid is directed to the stomach through a tube placed in the nose that connects it to the stomach. This technique is sometimes used over a 24 hour period but newer evidence shows that doing this rapidly over 4 hours is also effective.

The authors found that nasogastric hydration can be an effective or better than intravenous hydration, which is when a needle is inserted through the vein and liquid enters the body. For cases of intravenous hydration, evidence on the amount of fluid to administer was not consistent. The authors considered 20 ml/kg to be appropriate, which is standard intravenous rehydration.

Medications used to stop vomiting are known as anti-emetics. A common medicine used for this purpose is Ondansetron (Zofran). The authors noted that this medication does reduce vomiting in young children with the stomach bug but that there was no evidence that other medications were useful for this purpose.

It was noted that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends heart monitoring in patients receiving Zofran who have potential electrolyte abnormalities (which someone with the stomach bug would) because it can lead to abnormal and potentially deadly heart rhythms. Electrolytes are chemical substances that are able to conduct electricity after they are melted or dissolved in water.

The authors reported on one European study that did not show that the element, zinc, was useful in treating gastroenteritis. Lastly, the authors found that some probiotics are helpful in managing diarrhea gastroenteritis. Probiotics are live microorganisms that provide health benefits to the host.

Specific probiotics found to be helpful were Lactobacillus GG and S. boulardii but that others may prove helpful in the future as well as synbiotics. Synbiotics are combinations of probiotics and prebiotics. Prebiotics are undigestible food ingredients that promote growth and/or activity in the digestive system in ways claimed to be beneficial to health.

Reference: Pie?cik-Lech M, Shamir R, Guarino A, Szajewska H. (2013). Review article: the management of acute gastroenteritis in children. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 37(3): 289-303.




How you can stop norovirus from spreading

Don’t let the winter vomiting bug catch you or your toddler out this year

Norovirus is a highly contagious bug that has a nasty habit of spreading quickly, leaving vomiting and diarrhoea in its wake. Known as the ‘winter vomiting bug’ – although it can be caught at any time of the year – norovirus is the most common stomach bug in the UK. Prevent and prepare for winter’s worst with our quick-fire dos and don’ts…

Do symptom checks

The key sign of norovirus is a combination of vomiting and diarrhoea. If you’ve caught the bug, you might experience a sudden sick feeling, a fever, headache, stomach cramps and aching limbs.

If you’re pregnant don’t worry. Norovirus won’t directly affect your baby. But, dehydration can lead to an electrolyte imbalance. It’s important to seek medical advice if you spot the signs of norovirus, as it can lead to complications if you become chronically dehydrated.

Young children’s symptoms are generally mild. However, if your toddler’s fever is over 38C, he has vomiting and diarrhoea and is dehydrated, seek urgent medical advice. Dehydration can be recognised by complaints of being thirsty, if little urine is being passed or if he has have sunken eyes. If you’re concerned about any symptoms, speak to your GP or call NHS direct (0845 4647).

Don’t risk infection in the home

Disinfect surfaces, especially those you prepare food on. Wipe door handles with a surface cleaner and ensure your little one’s highchair is properly cleaned. The virus can survive for several days on surfaces or objects that have been touched by someone with norovirus.

Wash soiled clothes and towels. If there’s any sick or food stains on yours or your toddler’s clothes, be sure to handle them carefully with disposable gloves and thoroughly wash them with detergent on a 60C setting for a full cycle, or at 40C with a bleach-based laundry product, and tumble dry at a hot setting, too.

Avoid unwashed salad and make sure food is cooked properly – the juices on meat should run clear and it should be piping hot in the middle. Avoid raw shellfish if you’re pregnant, oysters in particular often carry the bugs that cause this virus.

Do drink up

If you’re pregnant and have diarrhoea make sure you drink lots of water. It can be difficult, but you should try and drink more than the usual recommended 1.2 litres a day. Your doctor may recommend drinking rehydration solution to replace lost liquid and body salts. Ensure you get lots of rest, too.

If your toddler is dehydrated encourage him to drink lots of water. Diluted fruit juice is good, too. Make sure he get lots of rest and eats little things that are easy to digest, like plain biscuits or mashed potato.

Don’t spread infection

Keep away from anyone that might be infected, especially if you’re pregnant or have young children. If you’re infected, be aware that the infection can still be in your system two weeks after the symptoms have passed.

Take children out of nursery or playgroups and wait at least 48 hours after the symptoms have passed to go back.

Opt out of swimming lessons for your child for two weeks after the last episode of suspected norovirus. Research suggests the virus can still be spread through the water, even if the symptoms appear to have passed.

Don’t let children share cups, cutlery or toys that they might put in their mouths. If children don’t wash their hands properly, infected droplets can be transferred onto the things they touch.

Do wash frequently

Wash yours and your children’s hands often with soap and hot water, especially after going to the toilet.

Do use separate towels and flannels to limit the chance of spreading the infection.

Do clean your toilet or child’s potty with disinfectant after each vomiting or diarrhoea episode. It may be unpleasant but it’s better than passing on the bug. Be thorough with the cleaning – including the seat and handle.

Do monitor symptoms

According to the NHS, there is no specific cure, so you have to let the virus run its course. But, symptoms of norovirus usually last between 12 and 60 hours and normally you’ll start to feel better after 48 hours. If symptoms last longer than this seek medical advice.

If you or your child notice these symptoms after a trip abroad you should seek medical advice as it might be a sign of a more serious infection.




The Bugs That Cause the Stomach Bug

Thousands of teeny tiny microbes live in your stomach and body on a regular basis. But too much of certain unseen bugs could mean the start of long-term stomach problems.

High levels of various bacteria in the stomach could start Crohn’s disease in children, a new study has found.

This means a certain type of bacteria may be the cause of Crohn’s disease.

The study, led by Hazel Mitchell, PhD, professor in the School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, aimed to see if bacteria causes Crohn’s disease, a chronic inflammatory bowel disease.

Researchers grew bacteria gathered from children’s stomachs and looked at how they attached and spread to other cells inside the intestines.

The study included 22 children who had colonoscopies at the Sydney Children’s Hospital Randwick in Australia.

Another 21 children who were healthy and had no inflammatory bowel disease were included to compare results.

The children were about 10 years old on average and more than half were boys. None had antibiotic or anti-inflammatory treatments within a month before the study.

Though the study is small, researchers gathered fecal samples from the children before each had their colon examined and recorded what bacteria were present.

These Proteobacteria, which include E. Coli and Campylobacter, “may play a role in initiation of the disease,” according to Dr. Mitchell.

They did not see any link between the age of the children and the kinds of bacteria found in their fecal matter.

Smoking, drinking and antibiotic intake that some adult patients partake in could be affecting the bacteria in their stomachs, making it difficult to look at the bacteria itself, the authors note.

“We deliberately chose to examine children newly diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, as we thought this would increase our chances of detecting species that may be involved in initiating Crohn’s disease,” Dr. Mitchell said in a press release.

The National Health and Medical Research Council in Australia and the University of New South Wales Goldstar award supported the study. One of the authors also received a fellowship from the council.

The authors do not declare any conflicts of interest.

The study was published in the October 2012 issue of the Journal of Clinical Microbiology.




Olympic stomach bug causes Sharapova to pull out of Rogers Cup

MONTREAL – Former world No. 1 Maria Sharapova has withdrawn from the US$2.168 million women’s Rogers Cup with a stomach ailment.

The 25-year-old told organizers she picked up the bug at the London Olympics.

Sharapova won silver at the Games when she lost in the final to Serena Williams.

She was replaced in the draw by Galina Voskoboeva of Kazakhstan.

“It’s disappointing for our fans and for all of us, but it’s part of the game,” tournament director Eugene Lapierre said in a statement.





Dozens sickened with unknown ‘stomach bug’ linked to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Wild Africa Trek

Several dozen people have been sickened by a yet unknown “stomach bug”  linked to visits to the “Wild Africa Trek” tour offered by Disney’s Animal Kingdom according to Orange County health officials.

Health officials were first notified the 2nd week of June and discovered it was more than just one group by the 3rd week of June.  The health department then started a thorough investigation to find all those who got sick.

NBC News reports:

Visitors who took the three-hour boutique tour — which includes nature hikes, crossing a rickety foot bridge, sightings of giraffes, hippos and other animals and a catered snack on a manmade savannah — came down with symptoms including diarrhea, abdominal pain, fatigue and nausea, according to Dain Weister, a spokesman for the Orange County, Fla., Health Department.

The Orange County Health Department issued a Fact Sheet Thursday with the following bullet points:

• So far this appears to be a simple stomach bug.  Symptoms are diarrhea, abdominal pain, fatigue.

• This cluster of illnesses appears to be under control as a majority of those who got sick were ill during a 2 day period the first week of June.

• The health department is still investigating and trying to determine a cause or source.  Many times we are not able to find a source.

• There have been no hospitalizations and most people interviewed did not even go to the doctor.

• People felt better usually within 2 to 5 days with the average length of illness of 2.8 days.

• Disney World staff made sure to take extra precautionary measures such as deep cleaning of surfaces, emphasis on hand washing and hygiene.

• Two restaurant inspections and assessments were completed at the restaurant that provides food to the trek.  They were both satisfactory.  No issues of concern were found.

• Hand washing and hand sanitizer has always been encouraged at Disney, but that message has been reinforced with guests and employees.

• No one has any contact with animals during this tour.

NBC News reports, Disney officials have conducted a thorough environmental cleaning, added more hand sanitizers and reiterated hand hygiene instructions for employees.

“We are working closely with the Orange County Health Department to review the situation,” said Disney spokeswoman Andrea Finger.