Memorial Hospital September 17, 2014

Jacksonville, FL - Health officials are on high alert for a stomach virus that’s affecting children in certain areas of Northeast Florida.

It’s called the crypto virus and has the symptoms of a typical stomach bug, but it could lead to death if not properly treated. There’s already been a report in Duval County of a child infected with the virus.

Health officials said the virus is spreading, but there are a few things residents can do to stop it and that begins with soap and water.

“It’s actually a virus that’s transmitted through the fecal oral route,” explained family practitioner Dr. Shalaka Ghate of Memorial Family Medicine - Beach Boulevard. “So it’s actually transmitted through contaminated water and food that may come in contact with a patient.”

Florida Public Health officials said the parasite cryptosporidium, known as the crypto virus, is affecting more and more kids under the age of 15.

The virus causes severe stomach cramps, nausea, fever, diarrhea and vomiting.

Ghate said with children back in school, more interaction is occurring. And the virus isn’t just spreading on the playground. Places like public pools, public restrooms and even flood waters could be home to hundreds of thousands of these parasites.

“I think patients who have nausea, vomiting or diarrhea should not get into public swimming pools or big water areas, like the river or the beach,” Ghate said. “That way they can actually avoid infecting others.”

And to avid getting infected, Ghate also recommends the following:

  • Wash your hands regularly
  • Keep all surfaces near you clean
  • If you care for a small child and change diapers, make sure your hands and the changing surface are also sterilized properly.

“Parents with kids who have this illness should keep their kids home for at least 24 hours or a period where they are free from nausea vomiting or diarrhea, so they’re not at risk of contaminating others,” Ghate said.

Officials said if the illness is not treated, at the very least the virus can lead to heavy dehydration and exhaustion, and in the worst case, it could be deadly.

View the entire segment at News 4 Jax »