Urgent warning as norovirus cases hit ‘highest levels for a decade’ – 6 signs you’re infected

NOROVIRUS cases are at their highest levels in over a decade, fresh data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has revealed.

Most cases are in the over 65s – with outbreaks having been detected in care homes, medics warned.

GettyNorovirus can spread very easily and you can catch it from having close contact with some who has the bug[/caption]

UKHSA The chart above shows how cases have norovirus have climbed this year[/caption]

Just last week it was revealed that 708 infections were reported in the fortnight leading up to February 12.

This is compared to an average of 373 typically recorded in the same two-week period before the pandemic.

The UKHSA recorded 685 infections between January 23 and February 5.

Figures from the UKHSA show that levels of the bug were ‘unusually low’ from March 2019 to 2020, with cases increasing through 2020/2021.

Dr Lesley Larkin, Surveillance Lead, Gastrointestinal Infections and Food Safety (One Health) Division at the UK Health Security Agency, said: “Norovirus levels are currently the highest we have seen at this time of year in over a decade. Most reported cases are in the over 65s and we’re also seeing an increase in reported outbreaks, particularly in care home settings.

“Please stay at home if you are experiencing norovirus symptoms and don’t 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.

“If you have a loved one in a care home or hospital, please avoid visiting until 48 hours after symptoms have cleared.

“Regular hand washing is really important to help stop the spread of this bug, but remember, alcohol gels do not kill off norovirus so washing with soap and warm water is best.”

The 6 norovirus signs to watch out for:

The symptoms of norovirus come on suddenly and the NHS states the main signs are:

feeling sick (nausea)diarrhoeabeing sick (vomiting)you may also have a high temperaturea headacheaching arms and legs

How 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 with a bleach-based household cleaner or a combination of bleach and water. This includes toilets, taps, telephones, door handles and kitchen surfaces
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

Norovirus can spread very easily and you can catch it from having close contact with some who has the bug.

Touching your mouth after touching surfaces or objects that have the virus on them could also lead to you getting it.

Alcohol-based hand gel does not kill norovirus, NHS guidance warns, so washing your hands frequently with soap water is best way to stop it from spreading.

If you or your child have norovirus, you can usually treat it at home. Make sure to have plenty of rest and avoid dehydration by drinking plenty of fluids.

You’ll usually start to feel better within two to three days.

When to call 111

The NHS advises that you call the helpline if:

You’re worried about your baby who is younger than 12 monthsYour child stops breast or bottle feeding while they’re illYou think your child under 5 might be dehydrated – signs could include fewer wet nappiesYou’ve used rehydration sachets but still have signs of dehydrationYou or your child keep being sick and can’t keep fluids downYou or your child have bloody diarrhoea or start bleeding from the bottomYou or your child have diarrhoea for more than 7 days or vomiting for more than 2 days