Norovirus, also known as the winter vomiting bug, outbreaks are increasing across England at a time of year when they are usually almost absent.
England has been hit by an outbreak of Norovirus, also known as the winter vomiting bug with cases tripling above their usual average for summer months. The government also warned, “it is possible that unusual or out of season increases could be seen in the coming months.”
Norovirus is highly infectious and causes vomiting and diarrhoea but usually passes in a couple of days. It is easily transmitted through contact with infected individuals or contaminated surfaces. Symptoms include projectile vomiting and diarrhoea and sometimes a high temperature, abdominal pain and aching limbs.
The increase in outbreaks has been mostly in educational settings, particularly in nursery and childcare facilities, with far more incidents reported to Public Health England than would be expected in the summer months. In the last five weeks, 154 outbreaks have been reported, compared to an average of 53 outbreaks reported over the same time period in the previous five years.
Professor Saheer Gharbia, Deputy Director, National Infection Service, said, “Norovirus, commonly known as the winter vomiting bug, has been at lower levels than normal throughout the pandemic with less opportunity to spread between people in the community but as restrictions have eased we have seen an increase in cases across all age groups.
“Symptoms include sudden onset of nausea, projectile vomiting and diarrhoea but can also include a high temperature, abdominal pain and aching limbs. Stay at home if you are experiencing norovirus symptoms and do not return to work or send children to school or nursery until 48 hours after symptoms have cleared. As with Covid-19, handwashing is really important to help stop the spread of this bug, but remember, unlike for Covid-19 alcohol gels do not kill off norovirus so soap and water is best,” Prof Gharbia added.
Public Health England has urged people to, “Stay at home if you are experiencing norovirus symptoms. Do not return to work or send children to school until 48 hours after symptoms have cleared. Also avoid visiting elderly or poorly relatives, particularly if they are in hospital.”
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