Stomach upset causing packed waiting rooms

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE)- It's a tricky time to be dealing with symptoms of stomach flu in Kentuckiana. In our weekly check of 'What's Going Around', we found several illnesses that can mimic symptoms and some need doctor attention while others resolve with symptomatic care.

There are doctor reports of more positive flu cases this week, and along with that at Norton Community Medical Associates in Clarksville, Pediatrician Jill Howell-Berg is also treating cases of stomach flu. The confusing part to this she says is that some patients thing the two are related.

Stomach flu is actually an illness formally known as Gastroenteritis and it has no connection to the influenza virus. Symptoms include recurrent vomiting for the first 12 to 24 hours, followed by stomach cramping and diarrhea that can last up to a week. Unlike the actual flu, fever is low grade and upper respiratory symptoms like cough and runny nose are minimal.

Dr. Howell-Berg says parents should know that infants and children are at risk for dehydration with severe symptoms of this. Watch for decreased urine output or decrease tears even. Go with a bland diet, clear liquids, toast or crackers as tolerated. Gastroenteritis is extremely contagious, so wash hands often when caring for others with this. And get to the doctor ASAP with any signs of blood in the stool.

Dr. Howell-Berg's advice becomes even more emergent with the reports this week from the Louisville Metro Health Department that there's an increase in cases of Shigellosis in the community. Shigellosis is a highly contagious diarrhea illness caused by Shigella bacteria. Symptoms often include watery or loose stools for several days, or in more severe cases abrupt onset of fever, nausea, abdominal cramping and vomiting. In some cases there could be blood or mucous in the stool.

Hand washing with soap and water will prevent the spread of this disease. It's treated with an antibiotic. Children who have this should not attend day care or school and will need to be kept until 48 hours after treatment is complete.

Also this week in northeast Louisville, more cases of Mononucleosis. Dr. Amee Patel with Jewish Physician Group says it typically occurs in people between 5 and 25, with symptoms of fever, headache, possible rash and swollen lymph nodes along with fatigue and the possibility of an enlarged spleen.

Dr. Patel says Mono typically resolves without medical help but can last from weeks to months. Patients need lots of rest and fluids. It's critical to avoid contact sports during the illness because of the risk to the spleen.