From the week beginning Nov. 3 through the week beginning Nov. 24, Public Health England (PHE) reported 56 suspected and laboratory confirmed hospital norovirus outbreaks with the West Midlands and North East regions/PHE center accounting for the most with 16 and 15 outbreaks, respectively.
Forty-seven, or 84 percent of the outbreaks led to ward/bay closures or restriction to admissions. Three quarters were laboratory confirmed.
This brings the annual total to 572 hospital norovirus outbreaks through the week of Nov.24.
During the period of Jan 1 to the week of Nov. 24, Yorkshire and the Humber region/PHE center has accounted for the most outbreaks (118), or slightly more than 20 percent.
The PHE reports that in the current norovirus season to date, which 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, there were 1529 laboratory reports of norovirus, 5% higher than the average number of laboratory reports for the same period in the seasons between 2009/2010 and 2013/2014.
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.