UK shows sudden increase in Norovirus cases

Recent data released by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has shown a massive spike in confirmed cases of Norovirus in the UK. Norovirus is a contagious virus that causes symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea. Although the disease is nothing serious, the virus being highly contagious is the most concerning thing. According to the National Surveillance under UKHSA, laboratory reports across the UK have shown a 66% increase in Norovirus cases compared to the previous year. It is especially the case with the geriatric population in the region. People above the age of 65 years have shown the highest number of laboratory-confirmed Norovirus cases. Although the geriatric population is more susceptible to Norovirus infection due to their weakened immunity, such a sudden spike in Norovirus cases is still difficult to explain. Thus, the UKHSA has released a few guidelines to keep the number of Norovirus cases at a minimum. 

Norovirus infection is a commonly observed seasonal condition. But the symptoms of constant vomiting and diarrhea can disrupt anyone’s life. Thus, it is necessary to follow all the prevention measures to avoid getting infected by Norovirus. Norovirus spreads by coming in contact with an infected person or from touching the surface that the infected person has touched before. Thus, the most effective way of preventing Norovirus infection is maintaining good hygiene. The UKHSA has suggested hygiene measures such as washing hands, avoiding touching to mouth and nose, and avoiding contact with anyone who seems sick. These measures are similar to the preventive measures issued for COVID-19. But without the extreme steps such as wearing face masks or gloves. It is because any person usually recovers from a Norovirus infection within 2 to 3 days. 

But as the primary symptoms of Norovirus are vomiting and diarrhea, it is necessary to maintain a steady level of body fluids and mineral concentration. Physicians thus suggest Norovirus patients drink plenty of water and electrolytes to keep the body hydrated and to maintain the concentration of essential electrolytes. People with weakened immunity must follow these suggestions to keep their infection at a minimum. It includes children, elderly people, and adults suffering from diseases like HIV, which affect the immune system. 

The reported hike in Norovirus cases is seen mainly in locations such as hospitals, schools, and care homes. These are locations that generally include the pediatric and geriatric populations. The maximum number of cases have been reported from care homes. It correlates with the observation of the geriatric population showing higher susceptibility to Norovirus. Dr. Lesley Larkin, Surveillance Lead at the UKHSA said that the number of cases is the highest we have seen in past years. He urged infected people to follow social isolation to prevent others from getting infected and to follow hygiene measures. Professor Sir Stephen Powis, the NHS Medical Director, said that the number of Norovirus cases has increased in hospitals and care homes. He further said, although the infection gets clear within a few days, it is still unpleasant to go through the infection.