Winter Vomiting Bug
December 20, 2011 by staff
Winter Vomiting Bug, Almost 800 patients have been struck down by the winter vomiting bug in hospitals in the last week. More than 40 trusts are known to be affected by outbreaks of norovirus and most have closed wards to visitors in an attempt to halt the spread. Figures from the Health Protection Agency show that the total number of cases so far this season is up a fifth compared with the same time last year.
But officials insist that the weekly rates are no worse than usual – and in fact the number affected in the last week is slightly lower than last year.
Up to a million Britons are struck down with the virus every year and the usual symptoms are sudden vomiting, diarrhoea, headache and temperature.
It isn’t normally life threatening but it leads to severe dehydration in the elderly, very young children or patients with underlying health problems.
As the virus is so contagious it spreads very quickly in hospitals and entire wards can be affected.
Last week 38 NHS trusts reported outbreaks to the Department of Health with a total of 794 patients infected with the virus.
The figures are twice as high compared with the previous week when only 331 patients were reported as having the bug.
In the last few days since the Department of Health updated its figures outbreaks have been reported in another three NHS trusts.
Experts say hundreds of others outside hospital are likely to have caught the virus, although cases are never officially reported.
The figures quoted in the graphic are for the numbers of hospital beds unavailable due to norovirus. They are higher than the number of patients as not all beds are occupied.
Professor John Oxford, of Queen Mary, University of London, said: ‘Norovirus is a big problem but most of it is below the surface. ‘The hospital thing is just the tip of the iceberg.
‘A lot of it is going on in the community but we don’t know about it because who will go to their doctor with vomiting and diarrhoea?
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