Norovirus outbreak reported in the UK. What is it?
The United Kingdom, which is already seeing a surge in coronavirus cases amid relaxation of curbs, has now reported an outbreak of the norovirus. Public Health England (PHE) has issued a warning after finding a rise in infections recently. But what exactly is the norovirus? How does it spread and what are its symptoms? We answer your questions.
Over the past five weeks since May-end, there have been 154 reported cases of the norovirus in England, according to PHE. The figures are three times that recorded over the same period during the previous five years, the health body has said. Most of the surge occurred in educational settings, particularly in nursery and childcare facilities.
The norovirus is a highly-contagious virus that usually causes vomiting and diarrhea in patients, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Anyone can get infected and sick with it. It is also commonly known as the "winter vomiting bug." Infected people can release billions of virus particles and just a few of them can make other people sick, the CDC says.
You can contract this virus by: 1) Having direct contact with an infected person, 2) Consuming contaminated food or water, and 3) Touching contaminated surfaces and then putting your unwashed hands in your mouth for eating or other activities.
According to the information provided by the CDC, the most common symptoms of the norovirus are diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and stomach pain. Other symptoms include fever, headache, and body aches. The virus can also cause inflammation of the stomach or the intestines, a condition called acute gastroenteritis. Symptoms start showing 12 to 48 hours after exposure and usually last between one-three days.
There is no specific medicine or treatment for the norovirus yet. Experts recommend drinking plenty of water and other liquids to replace fluids lost due to vomiting and diarrhea and prevent dehydration. You can also take medicines prescribed by your doctor to manage fever/body pains.
Experts say it is imperative to maintain proper hand hygiene to prevent catching the norovirus. Besides soap and water, you can also use alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Carefully wash fruits and vegetables before preparing and eating them. Do not cook food for others when you are sick for at least two days after the symptoms stop. Clean and disinfect surfaces in your house thoroughly.
"Viral and bacterial infections which were common in toddlers before COVID-19-induced-lockdowns are going to make a comeback as the restrictions are lifted because current generation hasn't developed the required immunity for the same. This phenomenon is called immunity debt," Dr. Akanksha Saxena of ENT360, said.