Diagnosis and prevention of noroviruses is important as approximately 3,000 people a year are admitted to hospital with norovirus in England. 1 There is evidence that the incidence has increased overall. New strains will continue to be an ongoing public health issue.
Increase in cases
A norovirus outbreak can have a significant impact on patient care. For example, hospital admissions may be restricted and delay patient transfer into the community. Latest figures from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) in a report from January show there have been 4,140 laboratory-confirmed cases of norovirus this season (from week 27 to week 52, 2012).2
The latest figures are 63 per cent higher than the number of cases reported at this point last year. Over the next few weeks the numbers of cases are expected to increase again.2
As part of its surveillance for norovirus, the HPA carries out genetic testing of norovirus strains from cases in England and Wales. Testing was performed when there was an increase in incidence in October. The strain that has become the most dominant is Sydney 2012, so named from where it was first identified. The Sydney norovirus does not cause a more severe illness when compared to other strains.1
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