The 'Ferrari' of viruses sweeps the US during an already bad flu season


by Claudia Coffey

Posted on January 25, 2013 at 4:49 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 25 at 7:01 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- As if this flu season wasn't bad enough, there are now reports of a new nasty strain of Norovirus.

This strain of the norovirus is being called the Ferrari virus for the speed at which its hitting the U.S. and sickening people. It's being blamed for 58 percent of reported cases last month of what people called the stomach flu.

Dr. Paul Schultz, an epidemiologist with Norton Healthcare says this is a new strain that the Centers for Disease Control has identified.

"If you have one of these illnesses you really want to prevent the transmission of it from one person to another," Schultz said.

Typically we hear about Norovirus's hitting cruise ships. But this is actually hitting people around the country right in the middle of an already nasty flu season. The symptoms hit you hard.

"It's usually an acute onset which means you go from feeling pretty good to pretty bad pretty rapidly," Schultz said.

The bug causes nausea, forced vomiting diarrhea and abdominal pain.

"Norovirus is the leading cause of diarrheal illness in the U.S. Every year 21 million people get this and 800 people die from this. This started in Australia but it is spreading like wildfire in the U.S.," Dr Richard Besser said.

At this point there is no vaccine for norovirus. Researchers are working on one but it isn't expected to be available for 5 to 10 years.

It's also extremely contagious that's why doctors say hand washing is a must.

"A little bit of common sense and a whole lot of hand washing is a good idea in these situations," Schultz said.