Winter vomiting bug cases soar by 52 per cent compared to last year's outbreak
Health Protection Agency report reveals huge increase in confirmed outbreaks in hospitalsHospital data represents just the tip of the iceberg as many avoid seeking medical help as virus is spread so easily

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UPDATED:

13:46 GMT, 26 November 2012

Thousands of people have fallen victim to the winter vomiting bug earlier than usual, with cases since July up 52 per cent compared to the same period last year.

The Health Protection Agency revealed that there have been 1,975 confirmed norovirus outbreaks in hospitals since July, compared to 1,301 cases over the same four-month period in 2011.

The number is likely to rise still further as the laboratory data for England and Wales is not released straight away.

Norovirus: The bug causes violent vomiting and severe diarrhoea

Norovirus: The bug causes violent vomiting and severe diarrhoea

Norovirus usually peaks in the winter months and this year reports suggest it has emerged earlier than usual with confirmed cases in November more typical for December.

The hospital data represents just the tip of the iceberg for the contagion as many people suffering with the bug avoid seeking medical help, as the virus is so easily spread.

The norovirus can survive for long periods outside the body, making it easy to spread. Its survival is dependent on temperature and the material it is present on. The virus can even survive for years in contaminated still water.

The black dotted line shows how norovirus laboratory reports have been higher for the past five weeks compared with any year since 2007 when testing methods changed

The black dotted line shows how norovirus laboratory reports have been higher for the past five weeks compared with any year since 2007 when testing methods changed

It places a huge burden on the NHS because wards have to be sealed off to prevent the virus from sweeping through hospitals. In the last fortnight there were 53 suspected or confirmed outbreaks of
norovirus. Of these 85 per cent led to ward or bay closures or admission
restrictions.

The bug causes violent vomiting and severe diarrhoea. It can be potentially life-threatening for the old and very young children, but usually clears through the system of healthy adults in a couple of days.

The virus can be spread through poor hand hygiene – with medical experts encouraging thorough handwashing to help prevent contagion.

HOW TO AVOID THE VIRUS

The virus is easily spread by contact with an infected person, especially through their hands.

You can also catch it through contaminated food or drink or by touching contaminated surfaces or objects.

To stop the spread…

Wash your hands frequentlyDo not share towels and flannelsDisinfect any surfaces that an infected person has touched

If you do catch the virus, keep washing your hands, keep your fluid levels up and stay at home until you are clear of symptoms for 48 hours.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2230916/Winter-vomiting-bug-sweeps-Britain-month-early-cases-quarter-year.html#ixzz2DKlLIzj5

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although thousands more unreported cases are thought to exist,

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2230916/Winter-vomiting-bug-sweeps-Britain-month-early-cases-quarter-year.html#ixzz2DKlLIzj5

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Thousands of people have fallen victim to the winter vomiting virus as it sweeps across Britain a month earlier than usual.

The
number of cases of the norovirus are higher than at any point in the
last five years and has been 'above average for the past six weeks,' according to the Health Protection Agency.

Cases of the rotavirus, which
affects children – causing diarrhoea and vomiting – are also up by
around a third, according to reports.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2230916/Winter-vomiting-bug-sweeps-Britain-month-early-cases-quarter-year.html#ixzz2DKjTHnLy

Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Thousands of people have fallen victim to the winter vomiting virus as it sweeps across Britain a month earlier than usual.

The
number of cases of the norovirus are higher than at any point in the
last five years and has been 'above average for the past six weeks,' according to the Health Protection Agency.

Cases of the rotavirus, which
affects children – causing diarrhoea and vomiting – are also up by
around a third, according to reports.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2230916/Winter-vomiting-bug-sweeps-Britain-month-early-cases-quarter-year.html#ixzz2DKjTHnLy

Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook