Norovirus outbreak in UK: All you need to know about the infection
The United Kingdom, which has relaxed the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) restrictions, is now reporting an outbreak of norovirus. Public Health England (PHE) recently issued a warning after finding a jump in norovirus cases during a routine surveillance.
In the five weeks since the end of May, 154 cases of norovirus have been recorded in England, according to PHE. The health body said that this is is a three-fold increase in cases over the same time period during the previous five years.
And in a more worrying development, the PHE reported increase in norovirus cases in educational settings, particularly in nursery and childcare facilities.
What is norovirus?
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), norovirus is a very contagious virus that causes vomiting and diarrhea. The PHE calls it a "winter vomiting bug".
According to CDC, people with norovirus illness can shed billions of virus particles. And only a few of them can make other people sick.
How can someone contract norovirus?
This increase in cases of norovirus can be a reason of concern for England as well as the world which is already grappling with the spread of Covid-19.
According to CDC, a person can contract norovirus by coming in direct contact of an infected person, consuming contaminated food or water and touching contaminated surfaces and then putting your unwashed hands in your mouth.
So, the spread is very similar to the way other viruses enter the human body.
What are the symptoms of norovirus?
The CDC has listed following symptoms of norovirus: diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and stomach pain. It can cause inflammation of stomach or intestines - called acute gastroenteritis.
Other symptoms include fever, headache and body aches.
Most people develop the symptoms within 12 to 48 hours of contracting the norovirus, and they can last upto 1 to 3 days.
Can someone contract norovirus many times?
Yes, says the CDC because there are many different types of noroviruses. And infection with one type of norovirus may not protect you against other types, the health body further said.
Though there is a possibility to develop immunity against certain types of norovirus, experts are not yet able to determine how long that immunity lasts.
How can the spread of norovirus be stopped?
By practicing proper hand hygiene - a method which is very similar to stopping the spread of Covid-19. The health experts say it is essential to wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers, before eating, preparing, or handling food, and before giving yourself or someone else medicine.
The experts say that norovirus can stay in human faeces and vomit for two weeks or more, even after a person starts feeling better. Alcohol-based sanitisers are recommended.
Treatment for norovirus
Well, there is no specific medicine. Experts suggest drinking plenty of liquids to replace fluid lost from vomiting and diarrhea. This will help prevent dehydration.