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Norovirus Cases Surge in the UK: What Is It? Should We Be Concerned?

How does norovirus spread? What are the symptoms of this illness? Here's all you need to know.

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3 min read
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As the world continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, a new viral outbreak called Norovirus has been on a surge in the United Kingdom. As of 26 July, 154 cases of Norovirus have been recorded in the country since the end of May, according to Public Health England (PHE).

These cases were recorded after the UK decided to relax the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions. The PHE said that most cases were reported in educational settings, such as in nursery and childcare facilities but there has been a rise in infections among all age groups.

What is Norovirus? How does it spread? What are the symptoms? How can the spread be stopped? Here’s everything we know.

What is Norovirus?

Norovirus is a contagious virus that causes vomiting and diarrhoea. It is commonly known as the ‘winter vomiting bug’. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people of all ages can get infected and sick with norovirus.

It is sometimes also called the stomach flu or stomach bug. However, it is not related to the flu, which is caused by the influenza virus.

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How can it be transmitted from one person to another?

Norovirus can easily spread and infected people shed billions of norovirus particles. Only a few virus particles are capable enough of making other people sick.

According to CDC, you can get the norovirus by:

  • coming in direct contact with an infected person.

  • consuming contaminated food or water.

  • touching contaminated surfaces and then putting your unwashed hands in your mouth.

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What are the symptoms?

According to the CDC, the most common symptoms are diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea, and stomach pain. Other symptoms can include fever, headache, and bodyache.

The symptoms can usually be seen after 12-48 hours of being exposed to the norovirus. You may feel extremely ill and vomit many times a day or have diarrhoea. In children, it can lead to dehydration.

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How can the spread be stopped?

There is no specific guideline or medication that can help in curbing the spread of norovirus.

The only way to deal with it is by maintaining proper hygiene. Practising proper hand hygiene, safely handling and preparing food, using alcohol-based sanitisers are just a few simple safety tips.

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Is there any treatment available for it?

According to the CDC, there is no specific medicine to treat people with norovirus illness.

If you are infected, you should drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. It will also help you gain back the fluid lost from vomiting and diarrhoea. In case of severe dehydration, you should contact your doctor immediately.

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With the symptoms being so common to COVID-19, how can they be differentiated?

Even though the symptoms of COVID-19 and norovirus illness are very similar, COVID-19 tends to have symptoms such as cough, loss of smell and taste, shortness of breath, most of which are usually related to the respiratory system. Whereas Norovirus can cause severe diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea and stomach pain, reported The Times of India.

You should contact your doctor as soon as possible if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms.

Is there any case in India?

No, no case of Norovirus has been reported in India yet. Watch out this space for more information.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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