What’s Going Around: Stomach bug spreading; virus causing sore throat for weeks

The stomach bug is spreading.

This week, WellSpan Medical Group providers are continuing to see cases of a viral stomach illness in York and Adams counties and now say it’s spread to Lancaster County as well. Symptoms of the illness can last up to five days.

For prevention, WellSpan Medical Group providers are continuing to recommend frequent hand washing. If you’re in a home with someone affected, they advise you should disinfect surfaces such as counters and door knobs.

Health care providers at Summit Health’s Urgent Care clinics in Cumberland and Franklin County say the “back to school bugs” are back.

As students returned to the classroom, the clinics reported high numbers of both upper respiratory infections and the stomach bug.

They offered the following advice:

“It may seem very simple, but the best defense against these types of illnesses starts with good handwashing habits. Parents – it’s important that you are reminding your kids to wash their hands after using the restroom and before eating lunch while they are at school. You may even consider packing a hand sanitizer in their lunchboxes.

With the stomach bug – it is key to keep your children as hydrated as possible. Sometimes just drinking water isn’t enough as it won’t replace the important salts, sugars, and minerals your child’s body loses.

Parents should keep sports drinks or children’s drinks with electrolytes on hand just in case of these types of illnesses. Keep children away from milk while they are vomiting, and if you have a young baby, speak with their doctor about breast milk and formula.

Too much of any type of liquid can actually make vomiting worse, so try one teaspoon every four to five minutes.

If your child is showing signs of dehydration or is unable to keep fluids down, they should be checked out by a medical professional.”

Lancaster General Health Physicians Roseville Pediatrics saw increasing numbers of hand, foot and mouth disease, strep throat and adenovirus cases.

There also was an increase in diarrheal illness.

Ear infections haven’t decreased in frequency all summer, and seasonal allergy symptoms are now on the rise, according to Dr. Joan Thode.

“Most diarrhea is related to viral infections, which can blunt the cells of the intestines, causing poor absorption of nutrients and subsequently more diarrhea. This means that diarrhea can sometimes slowly decrease over time, rather than abruptly stop at the end of an illness. It takes time for the intestines to recover full functionality.

Bloody diarrhea should always be evaluated in a physician’s office.

Diarrhea in large volumes can deplete electrolytes, including potassium. The best way to stay hydrated is to drink water and eat a balanced diet.

The BRAT diet is no longer suggested as it does not provide great nutrition. In the recovery phase after an acute diarrheal illness, a well-balanced diet with protein, water, fruits and veggies is important. The child should avoid processed food and artificial sugars and sweeteners until the stool begins to improve,” Thode said.

PinnacleHealth’s Heritage Pediatrics in Camp Hill reports there is a virus going around causing fever and headache for the first one to two days, then a bad sore throat that is lasting one to two weeks.

These symptoms mimic strep throat so patients should get a strep test to make sure it’s not strep throat, according to Dr. Kathleen Zimmerman. “With school starting up we are seeing more strep throat as well. Strep throat requires antibiotics for treatment, but the virus will not respond to antibiotics so it is never recommended to treat a viral sore throat with antibiotics.”

Prevention is good hand washing and not sharing drinks or food. Also, remind your kids to wash their hands at school before eating lunch and to never share a drink, cups, or utensils.

The pediatricians of Penn State Children’s Hospital say they’re still seeing a lot of colds, as well as a few cases of Lyme disease, which is a tick-borne illness.

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