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Winter vomiting bug cases increase over 2012

Friday 28th December 2012
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With 2012 drawing to a close, many people will be looking back on the major events that have occurred, and while the year will be remembered for the London Olympics, Hurricane Sandy and the fabled Mayan apocalypse, there has been another talking point in hospitals around the UK.

This is the winter vomiting bug which has gripped health facilities all over the nation and now officials at the Health Protection Agency (HPA) have noted that the latest figures have suggested that the amount of cases have topped a million. This specific strain of a norovirus has been highly prevalent in the past few months and hospitals all across the nation have been looking for the appropriate sterile services needed to prevent the spread which would infect more people. It has led to the closure of wards and prevented some patients being visited by their friends and family while they have been admitted into care.

The HPA's latest figures showed that there had been 3,358 laboratory-confirmed cases up until December 16th 2012. However, officials behind the research noted that for every diagnosed norovirus there are another 288 that go unreported which means the overall total could top a million. While the rate in which people are being infected has slowed within the past week, post-December 16th, there has still been an 83 per cent rise on 2011's figure.

Due to the nature of hospitals, it is very easy for the illness to be spread between patients and it could even be passed on simply by touching a wall that has been infected by a person that has been struck down with norovirus. 

The NHS explains that this type of disease is highly contagious and causes diarrhoea and vomiting in the infected patient although officials maintain that it only lasts a few days normally. Hospitals have been advised to help prevent the spread of the illness and that all staff members should wash their hands frequently as well as disinfecting any surfaces that have been touched by a person that has the illness.

While it is not irregular for some health facilities the large number of infected patients that have been reported across the UK has caused some concern for officials at the HPA.

John Harris, an expert in norovirus from the HPA, explained: "The number of laboratory confirmed cases has risen once again as it appears that we have seen the rise in cases that usually begins in January start a little earlier than we normally expect.

"Norovirus is very contagious, and very unpleasant. To help prevent spread of the disease, it’s important that people who believe they are unwell with the virus maintain good hand hygiene and stay away from hospitals."

There was a similar story reported north of the border in Scotland where the HPA in the area also noted a rise in cases and officials have stated that norovirus is unpredictable meaning that in terms of recording, the amount of reported instances can change every year. Officials stressed that it could simply be that 2012 has seen an earlier peak than normal or there has an actually been a higher rate overall.

However, what is true is the fact that many hospitals across the UK have been forced to close their doors to new patients as they look to cope with stopping the spread of the disease to other parts of their buildings. Wards have had to be shut and it has gone as far as some operations having to be postponed while the winter vomiting bug threat was controlled within these establishments.

While many will look back on 2012 with great fondness, those that suffered at the hands of the norovirus will be very happy to see the back of it and move forward into 2013.

written by James PuckleADNFCR-1780-ID-801514067-ADNFCR

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