Everyone I speak to these days seems to know someone who has been laid low by a stomach bug.
At first it seemed to be random and unconnected, but we have since been informed by the Hawke's Bay District Health Board that there have been 55 reported cases of a "nasty" strain hitting the Bay.
The long name for the bug is Cryptosporidium, or Crypto for short, and the cause of the outbreak is not yet known, but it seems to be from more than once source. It is believed to be potentially spreading through day care centres, drinking untreated water, and swimming in pools, lakes and rivers.
Crypto is contracted from a parasite found in the gut of cattle and other animals, and is passed to humans through contact with animals, contaminated water or food, or direct contact with human waste. The disease causes watery diarrhoea and stomach cramps, and may cause children to lose their appetite and vomit before the diarrhoea starts. It apparently lasts for less than four weeks.
It just shows how vulnerable communities are to these sorts of bugs and how important it is for families to ensure that they, especially the younger members, are not putting themselves in a situation where they can get this bug.
One good thing is that health authorities are assuring us that the bug is not in our cities' water supply. Hopefully, that will reduce the number of people who potentially could be exposed to it.
As always in these situations, anyone with symptoms should visit their doctor, drink plenty of fluids, follow doctor's instructions and return to the doctor, especially if a child or adult is not drinking, or symptoms persist or worsen.