The epidemic normally hits France every year, but normally around January. This year however it has struck with a vengeance three months earlier.
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 vomiting and diarrhoea.
France’s health research institute IRSAN, that gathers data from patient call-outs to doctors estimates that some 225, 732 people were struck down by stomach flu in France between Friday 7th October and Thursday 13th.
The institute reports that the outbreak of the epidemic dates back to the end of August and has resulted in a 20 percent rise in the number of people suffering from stomach flu.
“We are facing a form of epidemic that has arrived three months early,” says IRSAN on its website. “The peak would normally be in January.”
The epidemic is set to continue for a few weeks yet.
Five regions in France have been particularly hard hit with the Paris region of Ile-de-France, Grand-Est in the east of the country, Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and Occitanie in the south west of the country.
Health officials say the best way to avoid getting sick is 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.
Health experts advise drinking at least two litres of water a day.