Norovirus hits Uk again
Norovirus often called the winter vomiting bug has between 600.000 and 1million in the UK fall victim to its infection every year. The virus can be caught anytime of the year, but is more prominent in the winter period, whether this is because people stay indoors and have more contact throughout the winter is unknown.
The virus is extremely infectious and symptoms include diarrhoea and vomiting, symptoms are unpleasant and can last for a couple of days. Although not classed as a dangerous illness the effects of the virus can be more serious in the elderly, babies, those that are already unwell and those that have low immune systems.
The Norovirus not only affects our health, but causes widespread disruption in schools, hospitals, care homes and has made national news where outbreaks have closed an oil rig and ruined hundreds of peoples holidays on a cruise ship.
It is not only confined to the UK, A girl’s football team in Canada was laid low by the bug after a team-mate developed the illness even though she had had no contact with them. The source was traced to a grocery bag containing crisps and cookies in the bathroom the girl had used. When the team touched the bag and ate the crisps they became infected, and in the US where there are usually 20m cases of the illness a year, deaths in the elderly and immune-compromised have risen alarmingly.
Norovirus can survive for up to two weeks on hard surfaces and is not restricted by touch, aerosolised particles of the virus may float in the air, raising the prospect of more distant infection. It can be transmitted by water, food, vomiting and is only one of a few infections that can actually be caught from a toilet seat.
Despite efforts in research there is no vaccine to prevent it, but below are some tips (from NHS website) on how we can treat and inhibit its contagion.
If you have norovirus, the following steps should help ease your symptoms:
- Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
- Take paracetamol for any fever or aches and pains.
- If you feel like eating, eat foods that are easy to digest.
- Stay at home and don’t go to the doctor, because norovirus is contagious and there is nothing the doctor can do while you have it.
- Contact your GP to seek advice if your symptoms last longer than a few days or if you already have a serious illness.
- Extra care should be taken to prevent babies and small children who are vomiting or have diarrhoea from dehydrating, by giving them plenty of fluids. Babies and young children can still drink milk.
- Don’t worry if you are pregnant and you get norovirus: there is no risk to your unborn child.
The following measures should help prevent the virus from spreading further:
- Wash your hands frequently.
- Do not share towels and flannels.
- Disinfect any surfaces that an infected person has touched.
- Outbreaks in busy places such as hospitals, nursing homes and schools are common because the virus can survive for several days on surfaces or objects touched by an infected person.
The message here is if you suspect any of your family have the symptoms of the virus then it deserves extra vigilance in cleanliness. In research I have read that soap used often and liberally is more effective than alcohol and hand gels, wash and disinfect surfaces that are communally used. As with most bugs the best defence is to stop them in their tracks from spreading, the best way is to clean and disinfect any areas you may think that have the potential to pass the virus.
Below is an informative video from the NHS.