It appears the norovirus season has begun in England as health officials there reported 18 outbreaks of the gastrointestinal virus in hospitals across the country during the month of October. All but one led to closures of the hospital wards.
During the one year period from July 2013 to June 2014 shows over 600 norovirus outbreaks reported in hospitals of which 571 (94%) led to ward closures.
Officials with Public Health England (PHE) remind the public that if experiencing symptoms–stay at home and telephone NHS 111 for advice. It is vital that people who may have norovirus do not visit hospitals or their GP surgery.
John Harris, an expert in norovirus at PHE said:
October usually marks the start of the norovirus season and the bulk of cases will occur between now and April next year. No 2 norovirus seasons are the same and there is no way of predicting how busy a season will be. What we do know is that many people will be affected across the country and they will probably feel very unwell for a couple of days but will get better. For patients already ill in hospital, this virus could cause further health complications, making it vital to prevent introducing the virus into the hospital environment. We strongly urge anyone affected to stay at home and to telephone NHS 111 for advice.
Norovirus is a highly contagious viral illness that often goes by other names, such as viral gastroenteritis, stomach flu, and food poisoning.
The symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and some stomach cramping. Sometimes people additionally have a low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and a general sense of tiredness. The illness often begins suddenly, and the infected person may feel very sick. In most people, the illness is self-limiting with symptoms lasting for about 1 or 2 days.
In general, children experience more vomiting than adults do.
Norovirus is spread person to person particularly in crowded, closed places. Norovirus is typically spread through contaminated food and water, touching surfaces or objects contaminated with norovirus and then putting your hand or fingers in your mouth and close contact with someone who is vomiting or has diarrhea.