A nasty strain of gastroenteritis is sweeping France, leaving enough sick people in its wake that officials predict an epidemic level of illness next week.
Last week 176,000 new cases of acute diarrhoea were reported across the country, TF1 TV reported. Brittany, Limousine and Alsace were the hardest hit with at least 400 cases per 100,000 residents.
Gastroenteritis or stomach flu, which many French refer to as 'gastro,' is an inflammation of the stomach and intestines caused by a bacterial or viral infection that typically results in vomitting and diarrhoea.
And so far this week, it appears to be spreading ever faster. There were about 274 new cases per 100,000 residents last week, which is an increase over the previous seven days. The current level is just below an epidemic which is 280 new cases per 100,000 people.
The spike in sickness wasn’t a surprise for health authorities, whom had sounded the alarm at the end of 2013 about the coming nasty flu season. The rush of cases comes after a particularly lengthy cold and flu season last year that lead to spike in deaths in France.
How to stay healthy
Wash your hands! Health officials say the best way to avoid getting sick to avoid contact with dirty hands. However, if you can’t avoid touching others, make sure to disinfect your hands quickly.
If you do get sick, the most important thing is to remain hydrated and avoid eating foods that are high in fibre.