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Feeling sick? A contagious stomach virus is spreading across Illinois, doctors warn.

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What actions—apart from getting vaccinated and taking medicine—can you take to help slow the spread of illnesses like the flu? The flu virus has killed 20 children in Illinois.

Doctors warned people Tuesday about a contagious stomach virus spreading across Illinois.

The virus is extremely contagious and includes symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting and fever and lasts for one or two days, according to Southern Illinois University’s Center for Family Medicine in Quincy. Dr. Ayaaz Habibullah, a resident physician at the center, said the virus causes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and sometimes a low fever, which can lead to dehydration — the real danger in a stomach bug.

The virus is passed through person-to-person contact: shaking hands, hugging, touching surfaces or eating food prepared by someone who is infected. While the symptoms generally last only 1-3 days, you can be contagious up to two weeks after that time, according to Habibullah.

Habibullah said he’s seeing at least four cases a day at the center, but so far the disease doesn’t seem to be showing up in the metro-east. A spokeswoman for HSHS St. Elizabeth’s said the hospital has not seen any uptick or unusual increase in stomach issues. Marsha Wild, director of infectious disease prevention at the St. Clair County Health Department, said they’ve had no information about the virus.

“We were not aware of that,” she said, but added that in general they always “preach hand-washing” as good disease prevention.

The best treatment is to address the symptoms: rest, drink fluids, take Tylenol for aches and pains. Antibiotics won’t help; they only address bacterial infections. If you’re still healthy, stay away from people who are sick and wash your hands regularly with soap and hand sanitizer, Habibullah said.

Cases have also been reported in Missouri and Iowa, according to WAND-TV.

Elizabeth Donald: 618-239-2507, @BNDedonald

Kaley Johnson: 618-239-2526, @KaleyJohnson6
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