Doctors warn of extremely contagious virus this holiday season

Many patients seen with virus lasting longer than 3 days

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Many doctors have been seeing patients with an extremely contagious virus this holiday season, causing appointments to book up at after-hours clinics across Jacksonville.

The virus, which can include symptoms similar to the stomach flu, usually lasts two to three days, but doctors said it's lasting much longer than that this year. 

Dr. Vandana Bhide at Mayo Clinic said the outbreak has already spread to many of her patients. She said it's a virus that can be one of two types.

"It's usually the norovirus or rotavirus," Bhide said. "Both of them can cause watery diarrhea and it can be in adults and kids."

Health care employees at several CareSpot walk-in clinics told News4Jax Wednesday they've never seen multiple locations so booked up. That might be because the unnamed virus is extremely contagious and spreads wherever people are in close quarters. 

"We are right in the middle of gastroenteritis season, and so washing your hands after using the bathroom is really important, but also washing your hands before you eat because it is spread often through the mouth," Bhide said. 

During this time of year when so many get sick, doctors warned it's important for people to take care of themselves if they do catch the virus so they don't spread it to others. 

Bhide added that it's important for both adults and children to stay hydrated if they do get the virus. She recommends drinking liquids with low amounts of salt and sugar and monitoring bodily fluids.

Anyone who has been vomiting for more than 48 hours, or if there's blood in the vomit, needs to see a physician, Bhide said.

In addition, she said, anyone who's sick should not go to work and should not send children to school.