112,000 hit by winter vomiting bug across Notts
MORE than 112,000 people in Notts are feared to have caught the highly-contagious norovirus last week, new figures show.
The bug, which causes diarrhoea and vomiting, is at much higher levels than last year.
Experts estimate that, of the possible cases, around 28,000 were in Nottingham.
That is a 39 per cent rise – about 8,100 more – than last year.
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Nottingham's Queen's Medical Centre has closed two wards to new patients due to outbreaks of the virus.
Health bosses are warning people to take extra care with their hygiene.
Exact numbers of cases are hard to predict because most people with the bug don't seek medical help but the Health Protection Agency estimates that for every person who goes to a GP with symptoms, there are 288 people with it in the community.
Last week about 100 people in Nottingham went to their GP. In the rest of the county the figure was 289.
This means there could be as many as 112,000 people in Notts who were infected – 83,232 in the county and 28,789 in the city.
Fiona Branton, an expert on infection prevention at Nottingham CityCare Partnership, said: "The virus can become airborne when people vomit. But the main way people can contract the condition is by picking it up on their hands.
"People need to make sure they wash their hands often and keep their toilets clean.
"The fact that there is a rise on what we saw last year is not necessarily a concern because the virus is spread easily and its prevalence is unpredictable."
Dr Bob Adak, head of the gastrointestinal diseases department at the Health Protection Agency, said: "The norovirus season is always completely unpredictable as it peaks and falls over several months – usually October to April.
"However, one thing we do know is that every year we will see a large amount of norovirus activity because it is highly contagious.
"We would like to remind people to avoid visiting friends or relatives in hospital or care homes if they have symptoms consistent with a norovirus infection as it can lead to ward closures and severe disruption.
"Norovirus is a short-lived unpleasant infection but most people will fully recover in a couple of days. It is important to remain hydrated as you will be losing a lot of fluids due to the symptoms.
"Over-the-counter medicines can also be useful in reducing headaches and other aches and pains".
The virus can be transmitted by contact with an infected person, by consuming contaminated food or water or by contact with contaminated surfaces.
Symptoms include a sudden onset of vomiting and/or diarrhoea. Often people have a temperature, headache and stomach cramps.
The illness usually lasts for around one or two days.