Radio Sandwell Health News

Winter vomiting bug sweeps Britain a month early

2012-11-11 08:59:48

Norovirus Bug

Thousands of people have fallen victim to the winter vomiting virus as it sweeps across Britain a month earlier than usual.

The number of cases of the norovirus are higher than at any point in the last five years and has been 'above average for the past six weeks,' according to the Health Protection Agency.

Cases of the rotavirus, which affects children - causing diarrhoea and vomiting - are also up by around a third, according to reports.

However, the exact relationship between temperature changes and norovirus is not well understood.

NHS direct has also reported a jump in calls from people suffering symptoms of the two viruses, the newspaper reports.

Hospital infimary

There are around 1,200 confirmed cases of the norovirus in England, although thousands more unreported cases are thought to exist, the newspaper reports.

The figure is a 27 per cent rise on the same period last year.

Many people suffering with the bugs are believed to have avoided seeking medical help.

The norovirus can survive for long periods outside the body, making it easy to spread.

Its survival is dependent on temperature and the material it is present on.

The virus can even survive for years in contaminated still water.

The bug causes violent vomiting and severe diarrhoea.

It can be potentially life-threatening for the old and very young children, but usually clears through the system of healthy adults in a couple of days.

The virus can be spread through poor hand hygiene - with medical experts encouraging thorough handwashing to help prevent contagion.

The South West, North East, South East central region, south central and Wales have all been hardest hit by the virus during the past week, according to NHS Direct.

Outbreaks of the bug in hospital are also up on last year according to the Health Protection Agency.


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