(02/21/13) - It is the seasonal illness most of us dread more than any other -
"stomach flu". What we call the stomach flu is actually not a form of flu, it is
actually the Norovirus.
"It was the worst sickness I think I've ever had," says Heidi Button, of her battle with Norovirus.
Every year, it infects 21 million Americans. It sends 70,000 to the hospital every year, and kills 800.
It hit Heidi hard, "I literally slept on my bathroom floor all night and didn't move."
Norovirus causes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Infectious disease specialist John Treanor says even when symptoms start to go away, people are still highly contagious.
"Although you recover quickly, you continue to shed it from your body for many, many days afterwards and it only takes the tiniest dose to infect the next person," Treanor says.
Early studies of a nasal vaccine for Norovirus showed promise, but not as much as expected. Treanor and his team are now testing an injectable vaccine in people.
"What we've seen with the injectable vaccine is that the antibody levels that are generated are much higher than we're seeing with the nasal vaccine."
Heidi says she would prefer a date with the needle to being violently ill, "It's a horrible virus."
Tests on the vaccine are on-going. Because Norovirus can evolve quickly, once the vaccine hits the market, it may have to be updated and re-administered from time to time, just like the flu vaccine.
ABC12 Main Station