WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- A highly contagious Norovirus, with symptoms of cramping, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, has been lingering in Westchester for several weeks.
Susan Boland Garcin of Yonkers caught the Norovirus "bug" for the holidays.
"I got it Christmas Eve," Garcin said. "It's pretty bad. One to two days throwing up, constant nausea. Lasted about four full days. It wasn't pretty."
According to the Center for Disease Control, Norovirus has spread quickly and has no vaccine to prevent it or drug to treat it. It is usually not serious, but can cause discomfort for several days.
Medical experts recommend that if you have Norovirus illness, you should drink plenty of liquids to replace fluid lost from throwing up and diarrhea. This will help prevent dehydration.
Dr. Erik Larsen, the Director of Emergency Medicine at White Plains Hospital, said Norovirus is one of several illnesses (Rotavirus, staph infection, food poisoning, etc.) that cause the symptoms associated with this recent virus.
"The Norovirus goes through the body quickly and although the vomiting and diarrhea can be uncomfortable, the main problem for patients is dehydration," Larsen said. "Unlke many strains, this one can be airborne and that makes it easier to transmit."
Larsen said rehydration is the key to dealing with the illness and suggests that young children and the elderly are more likely to suffer risks.
"We want to be sure to keep the fluids going, especially in children and the elderly," Larsen said. "And those who are caretakers should wear a mask when cleaning up as a precaution."
William Stroud, a pharmacist at Greenleaf Pharmacy in Hastings-on-Hudson, advises people to contact a physician and expect to suffer some discomfort fora couple of days.
"You always want to be sure to talk to your doctor because it may or may not be (Norovirus)," Stroud said. "Drink liquids and don't eat because it will come right back. It seems that this virus is getting around quickly."
Tom Drago of Yonkers said both his children have had the illness.
"My daughter had it for four days, then both of them for another day," Drago said. "Both had nausea and threw up once. Now both have diarrhea."
Anyone can be infected with noroviruses and get sick. Also, you can get norovirus illness more than once during your life. The illness often begins suddenly.
Other, less common symptoms may include low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches and general sense of fatigue.
Sports drinks and other drinks without caffeine or alcohol can help with mild dehydration. Oral rehydration fluids that you can get over the counter are most helpful for mild dehydration.
Judy Guerriero of Tuckahoe said she suffered for two days with the virus two weeks back
"I went to the doctor and got some antibiotics, but it had to run its course," Guerriero said. "I couldn't keep anything down. The doctor said his office was swamped with patients with this virus."
If you think you or someone you are caring for is severely dehydrated, contact your doctor.