Health Care

Beware Beaufort County parents: This virus is spreading and it’s nastier than the flu

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At 36 weeks pregnant, Maria Galente was the first in her family to get sick.

On Sunday, Galente became “super nauseous” and ended up spending two hours in the hospital due to a virus, she said.

Norovirus — more commonly known as the stomach bug or the stomach flu — is spreading up and down the Carolinas, including in Beaufort County.

Galente said the virus spread quickly around her house. Her mother came down with it on Monday and her husband and 2-year-old son the day after that.

Norovirus is a highly contagious disease that can cause stomach and intestinal inflammation and mostly spreads in closed facilities during winter months, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Symptoms of the virus usually last about one to three days and include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, headache and abdominal pain.

Galente is not the only Beaufort County parent who has experienced the effects of the virus in recent weeks. A handful of moms took to the “Bluffton Moms” Facebook Group on Wednesday to share their experiences with the contagious bug.

Beaufort County School District spokesman Jim Foster said that the district has received some reports of students out with the stomach bug, but that the level is “normal for this time of year.”

According to a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Environmental Control, the number of norovirus reports across the state this year have been comparable to 2016.

Still, more than 100 students at an elementary school in Goose Creek were out sick last month due to an outbreak, according to The (Charleston) Post and Courier. And, more than 60 students on the campus of North Carolina State University in Charlotte, N.C., tested positive for the virus earlier this week, according to TIME.

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control recommends carefully washing your hands, laundry, contaminated surfaces, bedding and fruits and vegetables.

Some people may be contagious for as long as two weeks after recovery, so it is important for people to use good hand washing and other hygienic practices, according to the department.

Since the disease is a virus, it cannot be treated with any specific antibiotic. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that patients drink plenty of liquids to prevent dehydration.

Norovirus is often referred to as the stomach flu, but the condition does not have any relation to the flu, which is a respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus.

Maggie Angst: 843-706-8137, @maggieangst