CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Norovirus — more commonly referred to as the stomach bug — is sweeping the Carolinas.
Just this week, more than 60 students on the campus of North Carolina State University tested positive for the illness.
In Charlotte, dozens of moms took to the popular Facebook group M2M to share their own horror stories with the contagious bug, which causes your stomach, intestines, or both to become inflamed, which leads to nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and in some cases fever and abdominal pain.
“It was pretty much a nightmare for a full week in our house,” said mom, Laura Andrews. Andrews says it first struck her 5-year-old, then her 3-year-old. But instead of coming and going, Andrews says the bug was violent, lasting five days.
“Every time I thought he was feeling better, he would get sick again,” she said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say an average 20 million Americans come down with norovirus every year. They say it’s not seasonal, but that roughly 80 percent of cases occur between November and April.
The symptoms can be more serious for babies and older adults.
“Extremes of age, really young, really old that maybe aren’t consuming enough fluids,” said Dr. Will Harley of Novant Health Infectious Disease Specialists.
Harley says outbreaks are likely on college campuses and at schools, daycare centers and nursing homes.
Andrews says just days before her son got sick, her son’s school sent home a letter to parents.
“I did get an email from my older son’s school saying that it’s going around school, just to watch for things,” she said.
Doctor Harley says the best way to prevent yourself from getting it or to prevent yourself from spreading it once infected, is to wash your hands with hot water and soap.
The CDC also recommends thoroughly washing surfaces, dishes and bedding, and using bleach.
“After someone is well, there still is the potential you’re contagious,” said Harley.
And bad news for everyone.
“There are multiple strains of the virus. So, having the illness once doesn’t necessarily protect you from having it again,” explained Harley.
Harley says there is no treatment for norovirus, that it simply must run its course, but he stresses staying hydrated is important.