Sydney norovirus invades San Diego

Health officials: 600 cases in San Diego County

SAN DIEGO - The Sydney norovirus is alive and well in San Diego, according to San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency officials.

Dr. Eric McDonald told 10News more than 600 norovirus cases have been reported in the county since last summer, including some cases that turned deadly.

"The last couple of years, it has been the New Orleans strain, named after New Orleans. That was here in San Diego last year," said McDonald. "And the current strain, Sydney, is here in the United States and we're actually getting both strains here in San Diego."

"It's in fact the most common cause of food-borne outbreaks of diarrhea illness in this country," McDonald added.

McDonald said the new strain has more severe symptoms, including bouts of diarrhea and vomiting.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said roughly 21 million people will get some form of norovirus this year, 70,000 will be hospitalized and 800 will die.

The simplest way to protect yourself, according to health officials -- stay away from anyone who has the norovirus and wash your hands with soap and water, not anti-bacterial hand sanitizer.

The Norovirus is a virus, not bacteria, health officials said.

Health officials said the virus often spreads in places like schools, cruise ships and nursing homes. The new strain was blamed for a recent outbreak on the Queen Mary 2.

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