Norovirus cases spike in Great Britain

The U.K. Health Protection Agency recently confirmed a 72 percent increase in norovirus cases in comparison to last year.

The HPA said cases of norovirus have risen earlier than usual this winter in Great Britain and throughout the rest of Europe, but no cause has been discovered. Typically, cases are expected to increase after the beginning of the New Year, but this season saw the increase starting in December.

There have been a total of 590 norovirus outbreaks recorded in Great Britain, with 100 of them occurring in the last month alone.

"Norovirus is very contagious, and anyone who has had it knows it is very unpleasant," HPA norovirus expert John Harris said. "If you think you may have the illness then it is important to maintain good hand hygiene to help prevent it spreading. We also advise that people stay away from hospitals, schools and care homes as these environments are particularly prone to outbreaks."

Norovirus can be spread through contact with contaminated objects or persons. It can also be transmitted by the consumption of contaminated food or water. Symptoms of infection include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. A high temperature and headaches are not uncommon, but the infection usually clears after only a few days and leaves no long-term effects.