A new study by the Centers for Disease Control shows norovirus sent nearly 1 million kids under the age of five were sent to a doctor or hospital in 2009 and 2010
Norovirus, also known as a stomach flu or food poisoning, inflames the lining of the stomach and intestines. Symptoms of the norovirus include severe vomiting and diarrhea. Every year, the infection causes 21 million cases of illness, 70,000 hospitalizations and 800 deaths.
A little more than half of the cases are passed person to person, and 20 percent are caused by contaminated food. The treatment of the nearly 1 million kids affected by the norovirus is estimated at $273 million a year.
The study, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, an estimated 1 in 278 kids will be hospitalized by the time they turn five, 1 and 14 will visit an emergency room and 1 in 6 will receive out patient care.
Infants infected with norovirus were more likely to be hospitalized, and 50 percent of medical care visits from the infection occurred in kids between six and 18 months.
There is no treatment for norovirus. Doctors recommend bed rest and drinking plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Most people recover between 24 to 48 hours.
A new strain of norovirus was detected in March, and vaccines are being developed. If the vaccine is successful, it could significantly reduce the number of illnesses associated with the virus, and save millions in health care costs .
The CDC recommends washing your hands, cleaning any infected or contaminated surfaces, and wait two to three days after you recover before preparing food for anyone.
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Source: CNN, "Norovirus leading cause of intestinal disorders in kids," March 22, 2013.