MEG FARRIS -- If you've been at home in bed recently with a stomach bug, you are not alone. While there is no outbreak going on, there are children and adults complaining of severe intestinal symptoms.
For one family, those symptoms were felt tri-fold.
Sometimes, the Kocke identical triplets want to look alike, and other times, they crave to be individuals. Recently, something microscopic forced Linus, Oliver and Miles into an identical tailspin.
"He (Linus) kind of woke me up, 'Oh, I don't feel good.' I had a bag next to him and we met in the hall. Oliver comes out at the exact same moment, 'I don't feel good either.' And they both threw up at the same time," remembers their mother Pam Kocke of New Orleans.
Within days of one another, the nine-year-old triplets had severe symptoms of a stomach bug, possibly picked up on a trip, then spread to each other. A bag, just in case, still sits next to the three bunk beds. Mom, Pam, says the school parents' blog is full of similar tales of woe.
"The school had said there were kids just all over the nurse's office. Just miserable," Kocke said.
LSU Health Sciences Center infectious disease expert, Dr. Fred Lopez, says the suspect is the very common, highly contagious norovirus.
"Just a few viral particles are needed to be ingested in order to cause infection. It can persist on surfaces. Hand hygiene isn't always practiced as well as it could be among school-aged children," Dr. Lopez explained about why so many people may be sick.
Hand washing is needed with hot water. Regular alcohol sanitizers don't kill the virus. Bleach is needed on surfaces and hot water to kill it in laundry and the dishwasher. Of the 20 million cases a year in the U.S., up to 800 can die due to complications.
"Not because of the viral illness itself, but because of the dehydration and worsening of other chronic medical conditions in people who are either really, really young or people who are really, really old," Dr. Lopez said.
Kocke's pediatrician prescribed the anti-nausea ZOFRAN. Kocke said her children had fever, but no diarrhea. They sipped Pedialyte to fight dehydration. Now back at school, Kocke said she hopes she can take a break from changing sheets in triple bunk beds in the wee hours of the morning.
"It was not pretty," remembers Pam.
Norovirus is year-round but more common in winter and in close quarters, like dorms, schools, nursing homes, cruise ships and planes.
Wash your hands before touching food or your eyes, nose or mouth.
There is no vaccine to prevent infection and while special brand hand sanitizers claim to kill norovirus, we could not confirm that.