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Stomach Virus Outbreaks Called Normal for Winter

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First her son had it last week, flulike symptoms that had him hugging his gut.

When Nina Montanaro contacted her son's Buford Middle School, she learned several kids were out because of vomiting and diarrhea. At her job at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta, she heard that dozens of people had been coming in with it for weeks.

State health officials strongly suspect "it" is a Norwalk-like virus that usually lasts a few days. The virus is not uncommon during the colder months when people tend to be in closer contact, state health officials say.

The illness, which is also referred to as winter vomiting disease, drew public attention this week after 120 people in the Athens area reported the symptoms late last week and over the weekend, most of them University of Georgia students. Thirty more people a day reported it there Monday through Wednesday, officials said.

Aside from the cluster of cases at UGA, state health officials do not see the occurrences as anything unusual this time of year.

At Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, officials say more people have called the hospital's advice line to ask about the symptoms. But several other hospitals reported no such increases.

The best advice, officials say, is wash your hands.

Montanaro is so relieved she has escaped the illness that she wants to knock on wood. Of course, she might want to first wash her hands. --- Staff writer Etan Horowitz contributed to this article.

Copyright 2004 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


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