Health officials in the UK are reporting increases in the gastrointestinal bugs, norovirus and rotavirus, according to a updated report published by Public Health England (PHE) this week.


PHE reports the number of laboratory reports of norovirus in this season (week 27 2016 to week 50 2016) is 2435. This is 12% higher than the average number for the same period in the five seasons from season 2011/12 to season 2015/16 (2177), and 71% higher than the same weeks last season.

However, officials note norovirus activity was low during the 2015/16 season and no two seasons are the same therefore it is more appropriate to use the five season average for comparison.

In addition, 20 outbreaks of norovirus were reported in hospitals during the first two weeks of December, which led to 17 ward closures.

PHE says the most commonly detected norovirus strains in circulation this season belong to the Sydney2012 cluster of GII.4 noroviruses. This group of GII.4 norovirus strains have been circulating worldwide since 2012.

Concerning rotavirus, PHE reports 1136 cases this season (since week 27 2016), 3% higher than the ten season average for the same period in the seasons 2003/04 to 2012/13 (1103).

In addition, in the first season following the introduction of the rotavirus vaccine in July 2013, a 77% decline in laboratory-confirmed rotavirus infections in infants was observed. The total number of laboratory-confirmed rotavirus infections each season has since remained low compared to the prevaccine period.