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Ask the Experts: Food Poisoning or Virus?

A local woman says she's noticed some bad GI symptoms this week and wondered if it's food poisoning or if a virus is going around?

Local 12's Liz Bonis "asks the experts" at TriHealth in today's Medical Edge.

"Yeah, for the last about two to three weeks there has been a gastroenteritis, both in children and adults, both with diarrhea and vomiting."

Those are not usual symptoms going around this time of year, unless kids get sick from bacteria that can live in pools or get food poisoning at the picnic. But Doctor Scott Woods, a family medicine expert who is also an epidemiologist, says it's not been a usual summer for sickness. There is a bad summer gastro-intestinal virus going around, which is making people very sick. He's instructing his team of residents to be on the lookout, especially in young children and older adults.

"Anyone in between can usually battle this at home, but there are certainly cases where it's just too much and they need some help either with the nausea and vomiting or the excess fluid loss."

So, what you are saying makes sense, but our viewer wanted to know, how do I know if it's a virus going around or if it's a foodborne illness?

"Sometimes it's difficult, because this time of year food poisoning is more common, but food poisoning generally presents with a lot more vomiting. It's relatively difficult to tell the difference otherwise."

Rehydration for several days is the usual treatment, because this virus going around is also staying around for awhile.

"Usually lots of clear liquids for several days, until things kind of quiet down."

So, if it's lasting a little longer than the 24 hours, what are you seeing? Two or three days?

"Yeah, I'd say that two to three day range has not been uncommon, which is unusual for gastro. Usually it's just a 24 hour thing, but lasting into the second and even into the third day, has been pretty common."

At TriHealth's Bethesda Family Medicine in Norwood, Liz Bonis, Local 12 News.




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