Number of Norovirus winter vomiting bug cases drop

The number of people with the Norovirus winter vomiting bug has gone down for a second week, latest figures show.Number of Norovirus winter vomiting bug cases dropBut experts say the 32% drop seen in the rate of confirmed new cases over the last week alone in England and Wales does not mean the problem has gone away.

Infection rates always fluctuate and cases could easily rise again, says the Health Protection Agency (HPA).

This season, a new strain called Sydney 2012, is responsible for most cases. This strain of the virus was first seen in Australia- where the norovirus season is lasting longer than usual as outbreaks continue into their summer.

Experts are watching international patterns closely but cannot be sure what will happen next in the UK.

The number of new cases are up 56% on the number reported this time last year, and the total lab-confirmed toll now stands at 4,407. For each confirmed new case experts estimate a further 288 cases are likely to go unreported.

Norovirus symptoms and information:

  •     Symptoms include vomiting and/or diarrhoea
  •     You may also have a fever, headache and stomach cramps
  •     Over-the-counter medicines can be useful in treating headaches and other aches and pains
  •     Do not visit your GP surgery or A&E unit if you have it
  •     If symptoms persist for more than three or four days, or if you have a serious illness, seek medical attention through contact with your GP
  •     Wash hands thoroughly, particularly after using the toilet and before eating
  •     Clean hard surfaces with detergent followed by disinfection with a bleach solution, paying particular attention to the toilet and surrounding area.

During the two weeks up to 13 January 2013 there were 39 hospital outbreaks reported, compared to 33 in the previous fortnight, bringing the total of outbreaks for the season to 728.

The highly contagious virus can be spread by contact with contaminated surfaces or objects, contact with a person who has the infection or through contaminated food and water.

Experts advise anyone who thinks they may have the virus to stay away from hospitals, GP surgeries and care homes to avoid spreading it to people who may be vulnerable.

The illness usually resolves itself within a few days with no long term effects.

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