Doctor on norovirus: 'Don't panic'

DANIEL ISLAND, SC (WCSC) - Despite a recent state-wide outbreak that has claimed the life of an upstate woman, an area doctor says the norovirus is "nothing to worry about."

"[The] norovirus is here every year," said Dr. Bo Machado of Summerville-based Health First. "Usually, it is easy to manage."

Passed through vomit and stool, the norovirus has symptoms of extensive vomiting and diarrhea that last up to three days. As a result, said Dr. Machado, its subjects usually become dehydrated.

"It can be serious if quick action is not taken," said Dr. Machado. "However, drinking liquids that are high in electrolytes, like Gatorade, can treat the virus with ease. Be attentive to the fact that you've developed lightheadedness, a dry tongue, or your child is not able to produce tears when they cry. Those are red flags. You need to let [a doctor] know that they're going on."

Once treated, usually through anti-biotics or IV fluids, a person can still pass the virus on for two to three weeks. For those wishing to prevent themselves from getting the virus in the first place, Dr. Machado says hand-washing, particularly for the very young, old, or those who work in day-care facilities, is key.

"Your hands carry 99.9 percent of all germs you come in to contact with," said Machado.  "If you work around diapers, like in day-care facilities, you have to be an expert hand washer."

While Dr. Machado says his office has been "full of those who have symptoms" -- 25 to 30 patients each day for the past week -- he urges that in most cases, the norovirus is not much to worry about.  While in rare cases it can be deadly, Dr. Machado says using common sense and listening to your body is key to a clean bill of health.

"Use good wisdom and be balanced," he said.

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