People Advised To Control Norovirus

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Norovirus

Following a number of outbreaks of norovirus infection across the UK, the Health Protection Agency (HPA) is advising people on how best to control the spread of this well-known winter virus.

Norovirus is the most frequent cause of infectious gastroenteritis in England and Wales. It is also known as the "winter vomiting disease" due to its seasonality and typical symptoms of vomiting and diarrhoea. The symptoms usually last from 12 to 60 hours and will start with the sudden onset of nausea followed by projectile vomiting and diarrhoea.

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Norovirus affects people of all ages. Most people recover very quickly but immunity to it is short-lived and it is easily transmitted from one person to another. It thrives in semi-closed environments where large numbers of people congregate, so schools, nursing homes and hospitals are most affected.

Professor Peter Borriello, Director of the Agency's Centre for Infections said: "We are aware of outbreaks of norovirus that have caused illness in the community and in hospital wards in various parts of the country.

"We are currently seeing low but increasing levels of norovirus infection across the UK, which may mark the beginning of the winter season. It is not unusual to see outbreaks occurring in hospitals, as the virus quickly spreads in confined living environments. Our Health Protection Units are working with affected hospitals where necessary.

"Good hygiene is important in preventing yourself or others from becoming infected - this includes thorough hand washing especially after using the toilet, and any contaminated surface should be thoroughly disinfected after an episode of illness. Food preparation should also be avoided until three days after symptoms have disappeared. Unfortunately there is no specific treatment for norovirus apart from letting the illness run its course, therefore it is important to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration especially in the very young or elderly."

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