Cases of 'highly infectious bug' on the rise
THE number of patients contracting norovirus in our region is steadily rising as winter takes hold.
However, a spokesman for Health Protection Agency (HPA) Yorkshire and the Humber said that evidence from doctors and hospitals showed the level of cases locally was "entirely as we would expect at around this time of year".
The news is in contrast to national reports that the numbers of patients contracting the disease – which causes vomiting and diarrhoea, and can lead to ward closures following hospital outbreaks – are at a five-year high.
The latest national figures provided by the HPA show confirmed reports of the virus – where samples have been sent by hospitals or GPs to laboratories for tests – is up 52 per cent on last year.
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There have been 1,975 cases since July – compared to 1,301 this time last year.
No localised figures are available as it is not classed as a notifiable disease and so such data is not recorded.
It is also hard to measure the true number of people hit by the virus, as many patients do not inform their GP and the advice to those affected is to stay at home and drink plenty of water.
Other symptoms of the disease – which is "highly infectious" include a raised temperature, headaches and aching limbs.
But there are some simple steps you can take to avoid falling victim to the bug – or passing it on if you are unlucky enough to catch it.
Dr Stephen Morton, director at HPA Yorkshire and the Humber, added: "Many people don't realise how easily norovirus is spread, and therefore just how important it is for infected people to follow good hygiene measures, including thorough hand-washing, particularly after visiting the toilet."
Other top tips include:
Where possible, stay away from school or work until 48 hours after symptoms have ceased.
Drink plenty of fluids and rest to prevent dehydration.
Make sure that any surface contaminated by vomit or faeces is thoroughly disinfected after an episode of illness.
Dr Andrew Clark, director of public Health at NHS Yorkshire and the Humber, said: "We realise that people will want to visit friends and relatives whether at home or in hospitals, care or nursing homes over winter.
"If you are visiting people who are particularly vulnerable to infection and you have symptoms of sickness and, or diarrhoea , the best thing you can do to protect your loved ones is to delay any visits until you are fully recovered and have been symptom free for two days.
"If you think you may be affected by norovirus, stay at home and use the symptom checker on the NHS Direct website, which is also available on web-enabled mobile phones."
Find out more
For more information, log on to www.nhs.uk/nhsdirect or mobile.nhsdirect.nhs.uk via your phone. Alternatively, call NHS Direct on 0845 4647.