Norovirus outbreak rises sharply

Sharp rise in the cases of the winter vomiting bug Photo: Press Association

The number of confirmed cases of norovirus in England and Wales is 83% higher than this time last year, according to the latest figures from the Health Protection Agency (HPA).

There have been 3,046 confirmed cases so far this season, compared with 1,669 last season. The norovirus season runs from around November to April.

It has been estimated that for every confirmed case there are around 288 unreported cases, since the vast majority of affected people do not access health care services.

By that reckoning, almost 880,000 people could have been affected.

Symptoms include:

  • A feeling of sickness following by forceful vomiting and watery diarrhoea.
  • A raised temperature
  • Headaches or stomach cramps
  • Aching limbs
  • Sufferers can become dehydrated.
  • The symptoms normally clear up in 1-2 days.

What to do if you get the winter vomiting bug:

  • Do not visit your GP surgery or A&E - you will recover naturally without treatment.
  • Drink plenty to replace lost fluids.
  • Wash hands thoroughly and regularly - particularly after using the toilet and before eating.
  • Do not visit friends or relatives in hospitals or residential care homes to avoid introducing the infection.
  • Use NHS Direct online health and symptom checker to manage diarrhoea and vomiting.