Published on 20/12/2011
New figures released by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) reveal that outbreaks of the winter vomiting bug Norovirus have doubled in the past fortnight, closing hundreds of NHS hospital wards.
Last week 38 NHS trusts reported outbreaks to the Department of Health with a total of 794 patients infected with the virus.
This is more than double the previous week's figure when only 331 patients were reported as having the bug.
In fact, since the start of the ‘season’ in July there have been 1,607 confirmed cases of Norovirus in England, compared with 1,350 for the same period last year. This is thought to be a fraction of the overall figure, since most patients will not send samples to a lab for analysis.
Now, more than 40 trusts are known to be affected by outbreaks of Norovirus and most have closed wards to visitors in an attempt to halt the spread.
One of the worst hit hospitals is the Royal Free in Hampstead, North West London, where 131 beds were closed last week.
The bug is highly contagious, and is easily passed around hospital wards through patients with weakened immune systems. Norovirus can be transmitted by physical contact, eating or drinking contaminated food or water, and even contact with surfaces housing the virus.
The HPA urged people who think they may have caught the bug not to visit their GP, but phone their surgery or NHS direct for advice.
One of the benefits of private medical insurance is the chance to be treated in a single private room with ensuite facilities. With Norovirus quickly spreading across NHS wards, those who stay in a private hospital will be less at risk of the bug and other hospital acquired infections. Compare health insurance online now.
© ActiveQuote Health Ltd. 2011Categories: Health