What’s Going Around: stomach bug spreads across the Midstate

UPMC Pinnacle’s Heritage Pediatrics in Camp Hill reports there is a gastrointestinal virus going around. It starts with belly pain and vomiting, then diarrhea often starts on the second day. In most cases, the vomiting is the most frequent in the first day and then resolves or occurs intermittently in the following days.

Treatment is supportive, meaning there is no prescription that will resolve it. Patients are advised to drink clear liquids. Dr. Kathleen Zimmerman said it’s best to give pediatric electrolyte solution, but it is important to sip slowly and no try to drink right after vomiting. She suggests waiting at least 30 minutes.

If your child can tolerate liquids, then bland foods like crackers, rice and bananas can be tried.

Watch for signs of hydration in your child, including wet mouth, tears and urinating every four to six hours, Zimmerman said.

“If your child is not urinating at least four times per day then you should call your doctor immediately,” she said.

Providers at Summit Health in Cumberland and Franklin counties also report a nasty stomach bug making the rounds.

The biggest concern when children get the GI bug is dehydration, so having an electrolyte drink on hand, in case symptoms come on suddenly, can be very helpful, they said.

Sometimes just drinking water isn’t enough, as it won’t replace the important salts, sugars, and minerals your child’s body loses.

Parents are advised to keep children away from milk while they are vomiting. 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, they said.

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 says a stomach bug, strep throat and croup took their office by storm this week.

Dr. Joan Thode said she saw a sharp increase in kids of all ages presenting with vomiting and diarrhea, sometimes with a fever as well.

She also saw a sharp increase in strep throat cases and said croup has continued to steadily increase among infants and toddlers.

Thode also saw an increase in the number of urinary tract infections, although they are not contagious.

There has also been no let-up in the number of viral illnesses seen compared to the last two weeks, she said.

Thode offered the following advice about stomach-related illnesses:

“The formal name of the GI bug is ‘gastroenteritis,’ which means inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. This inflammation is caused by any one of a large number of viruses.

Gastroenteritis often starts with vomiting and ends with diarrhea, though the opposite could be the case. The diarrhea often resolves slower than the vomiting because the cells of the intestines become injured and therefore absorb less water, sugar and nutrients. The result is loose stool, which will resolve once the virus is gone and the cells lining the intestines have a chance to be replaced. This can take up to a week, especially in younger kids.

The primary goal for a child with acute gastroenteritis is hydration. Water is the most ideal hydration in children over 12 months. Babies younger than 12 months still have immature kidneys, so hydration efforts should be coordinated with your child’s doctor. Electrolyte solutions like Pedialyte can be used for vomiting or diarrhea, keeping in mind that water should be the primary form of rehydration.

While your child’s doctor may prescribe a medication that reduces vomiting, anti-diarrheal medications are not advised, as they cause the infection to stay in the intestines longer.

Children of any age who cannot keep any fluids down due to vomiting and/or are showing signs of dehydration, including less urine output, fewer tears, dry mouth or cracked lips, should be evaluated by a doctor sooner rather than later.

Thode also reminder people that although Thanksgiving is a time of family and good food, it’s also a time of necessary increased vigilance for choking hazards, allergen exposures and kitchen accidents for kids.

Geisinger Holy Spirit’s emergency department in East Pennsboro Township, Cumberland County reports the flu is going around. In addition, they’re seeing common viruses, such as rhinovirus, and croup and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, in kids.

Geisinger Holy Spirit Primary Care centers in Perry and Dauphin Counties also report a spike in viral upper respiratory infections.

This week, WellSpan Medical Group providers are also continuing to see an increase in the number of upper respiratory viral infections.

With the Thanksgiving holiday here, WellSpan Medical Group providers would like to remind everyone to safely prepare their food and take steps, such as washing hands, avoiding cross-contamination with raw meat and cleaning food preparation and eating surfaces, to help prevent illness.

The pediatricians of Penn State Children’s Hospital are still reporting a lot of rhinovirus, which causes the common cold.

They’re also seeing other respiratory viruses, including RSV, parainfluenza and adenovirus.

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