Nasty stomach bug is making the rounds

(Western Mass News photo)

The symptoms are severe and come on like a freight train - severe vomiting and diarrhea, sometimes accompanied with a fever.

A stomach virus appears to be making its way through several communities in western Massachusetts.

It is highly contagious and pediatricians said can do some damage in classrooms as well.

"It's a viral infection. We call it viral gastroenteritis," said Dr. John Kelley with Redwood Pediatrics.

It can happen within a matter of hours.

"It's fast, very fast. Symptoms are typically, they start with vomiting, persistent vomiting, three or four times in a row and then maybe a break and vomit again a couple hours later and then after that, it's followed frequently by diarrhea," Kelley explained.

Kelley told Western Mass News that it is highly contagious.

"It can spread pretty quickly through families, classrooms, schools," Kelley noted.

The good news: the duration usually isn't long, as little as a day or two.

The concern, however, is keeping patients hydrated. Kelley said that clear liquids are best.

"So frequent sips, I mean like one or two teaspoons every 5 to 10 minutes for a couple of hours. When they keep that down, you can increase the volume slowly and after doing that for 12 to 15 hours, they're keeping fluids down, you can introduce crackers or toast, something easy to digest. If they vomit, you start all over again," Kelley said..

Kelley can't stress hand-washing and proper hygiene enough to keep the virus from spreading and staying home.

"That's why you want to make sure that when children have vomiting, diarrhea, they stay home and away from large groups of people," Kelley said.

Since classrooms can double as petri dishes, doctors and several local school nurses we talked to today said summer can't come soon enough.

Kelley said that most cases can be treated at home. However, if vomiting and diarrhea persist, the best advice is to contact your doctor.

Copyright 2018 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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