Vomiting bug sweeps UK
What with train travel problems and winter vomiting lots of people here in the uk have still to return to work after the Christmas and New Year break - some people are heeding doctors warning to stay off work if you have the bug - even some that haven't got it....
Cases of a vomiting bug currently sweeping the country have doubled in a year, prompting doctors to warn those affected to stay home.
The Health Protection Agency (HPA) confirmed that cases of norovirus have hit a high not seen since 2002.
But the true number of people affected is actually much higher as many do not see their GP and cases go unreported, the HPA said.
Doctors estimate more than 100,000 people a week are catching the stomach bug, which causes diarrhoea and vomiting.
Professor Steve Field, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said the number of new cases each week may even top 200,000 across the UK.
"Surgeries and hospitals have been swamped with people wanting advice," he said and advised those affected to stay at home, drink lots of fluids and take paracetamol.
He said outbreaks at school as the new term starts could lead to children infecting their parents and parents then spreading it at work.
A comparison of the number of cases reported to the HPA from early September to early December reveals a doubling between 2006 and 2007 for England and Wales.
In 2000, just 288 cases were reported, rising to 1,845 in 2002 when a virulent strain was identified.
In 2006 there were 685 cases, but that doubled to 1,325 in 2007.
Norovirus frequently causes outbreaks in places where people congregate, such as schools and cruise ships.
Many cases also occur in hospitals and may cost the NHS more than £100 million a year during epidemics.
The HPA reported in December that the 2007 norovirus season had started "uncharacteristically early", with a greater number of cases nationally from the first week of November.
The HPA said improved reporting and testing may have contributed to the increase.
Norovirus is the most common cause of infectious gastroenteritis in England and Wales.
The virus is easily transmitted by contact with an infected person, by consuming contaminated food or water or by contact with contaminated surfaces or objects.
According to the HPA, symptoms will begin around 12 to 48 hours after becoming infected and will usually last 12 to 60 hours.
Most people make a full recovery within one or two days, however some (usually the very young or elderly) may become very dehydrated and require hospital treatment.