A new strain of the highly contagious norovirus has made it to the U.S., all the way from down under, causing outbreaks of stomach upset, vomiting and diarrhea across the nation, but in the midst of the messy epidemic, Boston is faring pretty well.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the new norovirus, named GII.4 Sydney, as it’s believed to have started in Australia’s biggest city, is the leading cause of norovirus outbreaks in the U.S.
In a report released Friday, the C.D.C said noroviruses are the leading cause of epidemic gastroenteritis, including foodborne outbreaks, in the U.S. patients.
Boston taken a lot of hits this flu season, with city officials declaring a public health emergency and reporting more than 700 people have caught seasonal influenza since October.
But according to the The Boston Health Commission, only 2 percent of emergency room visits this month were due to acute upper gastrointestinal episodes, A.K.A stomach bugs.
Furthermore, of that 2 percent, it’s unclear whether the symptoms were due to the norovirus, or other, less severe stomach issues. This time last year, GI visits accounted for about 3.5 percent of emergency room visits.
According to a spokeswoman for the health commission, “These are numbers for Acute GI, which may be – but is not necessarily – norovirus. A specific test is needed for norovirus, and I’m told it’s not often given.”
Check out this graphic showing numbers of local GI / ER visits: