West Midlands and Devon, Cornwall and Somerset Region/PHE Centre’s recorded 20 hospital norovirus outbreaks each leading regions during the last month of 2014, according to Public Health England data recently published.
The hospital norovirus outbreak reporting scheme (HNORS) recorded 92 outbreaks occurring between weeks 49 and 52, 2014, 88 (96%) of which led to ward/bay closures or restriction to admissions.
In total, from week 1 (January 2014) to week 52 (week beginning 22 December 2014) 676 outbreaks have been reported. Ninety-three per cent (448) of reported outbreaks resulted in ward/bay closures or restrictions to admissions and 66% (448) were laboratory confirmed as due to norovirus.
The norovirus reporting season in England runs from July to June (week 27 in year 1 to week 26 in year 2) in order to capture the winter peak in one season.
In the current season to date (from week 27, 2014, to week 52, 2014), there were 2592 laboratory reports of norovirus, according to health officials. This is 1% lower than the average number of laboratory reports for the same period in the seasons between 2009/2010 and 2013/2014 (2614).
Norovirus, also known as winter vomiting disease, causes gastroenteritis and is highly infectious. The virus is easily transmitted through contact with infected individuals from one person to another.
Outbreaks are common in semi-enclosed environments such as hospitals, nursing homes, schools and cruise ships and can also occur in restaurants and hotels.
The virus is usually mild and lasts for 1 to 2 days. Symptoms include vomiting, projectile vomiting, diarhorrea and fever. Most people make a full recovery within a couple of days but it can be dangerous for the very young and elderly people.