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BRITS have been urged to protect themselves against norovirus – as cases climb to highest level in over ten years.
Official data shows norovirus infections are up 66 per cent compared to what they usually are for this time of year.
The majority of cases have been seen in those over the age of 65 and those living in care homes.
And while high numbers of cases in this age group is expected at this time of year, experts says these levels haven’t been seen in years.
In response to the increase in cases, UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is reminding the public of the actions that they can take to reduce the spread of norovirus.
Dr Lesley Larkin of the UKHSA, said: “Norovirus levels are currently the highest we have seen at this time of year in over a decade.
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"Most reported cases are in the over 65s and we’re also seeing a rise in reported outbreaks, particularly in care home setting."
She added: "Please stay at home if you are experiencing norovirus symptoms and do not return to work (particularly if you work with vulnerable people or food) or send sick children to school or nursery until 48 hours after symptoms have cleared."
Norovirus, also commonly referred to as the winter vomiting bug, is a stomach complaint that causes vomiting and diarrhoea.
In most cases, you will suddenly become ill, with symptoms often lasting up to three days, according to the NHS.
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Do you have norovirus?
The symptoms of norovirus come on suddenly and the NHS states the six main signs are:
- feeling sick (nausea)
- being sick (vomiting)
- you may also have a high temperature
- a headache
- aching arms and legs
The symptoms start suddenly within one to two days of being infected, guidance states.
If you have the illness, the best thing to do it rest and have lots of fluids to avoid dehydration.
You'll start to feel better in two to three days.
Eating foods that have been prepared or handled by someone with the bug also raises your risk of catching it.
Hwo to protect yourself from norovirus
Norovirus can be nasty, but there are ways that you can prevent you and your family catching the bug.
- Pay close attention to hygiene – wash your hands frequently, using soap and water
- Avoid close contact with people who are obviously sick
If you or members of your household are ill:
- Try to keep those with symptoms away from others until the illness has subsided for at least 48 hours
- Clean frequently – disinfect any potentially contaminated surfaces or objects
- Wash contaminated clothing or bedding using detergent at high temperature (60C)
- Do not allow anyone who is sick to prepare food for other people
- Anyone who has symptoms should drink fluids and stay well hydrated. Consider adding rehydration salts to water. Eat plain foods (if you can manage eating).
- Seek medical attention if symptoms are not improving after 24 hours, or if concerned. This is especially important for young children and the elderly, as they are prone to rapid dehydration.
If you or your child's symptoms get worse and you've been ill for more than seven days you should call 111.
Norovirus is spread very easily and you can catch it if you've had close contact with someone who has had the bug.
You might also be unwell if you have touched surfaces or objects that have the virus on them, and then you've touched your mouth.
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