Dirty floodwater could cause surge in norovirus cases

norovirusHealth experts are predicting a rise in stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhoea caused by dirty floodwater as sewage spills out of drains.

Floodwater may comprise of E.coli, salmonella and campylobacter bacteria as animal waste mixes with storm waters and human waste could result in a surge in cases of the the winter vomiting bug norovirus.

Dr Ben Neuman, microbiologist from the University of Reading, analysed a sample of water taken from next to a house that had been flooded in Somerset. Dr Neuman noted higher levels of bacteria, comparing it to the result of dissolving a couple of teaspoons of horse manure in an office water cooler.

Speaking to The Independent, Dr Neuman said: “I think there will be a big spike in diarrhoea, but people may not up end up reporting it to the public health authorities. It will be unpleasant, but not deadly. The water is dirty rather than dangerous.”

Public Health England (PHE) says it is monitoring hospitals and family doctors for the first sign of a spread of infectious disease.

Virginia Murray, head of extreme events and health protection, commented: “Floodwater can be coming from all over the place. You wouldn’t ever drink or swim in contaminated water. There are likely to be all sorts of bacteria and pathogens in floodwater and the best advice is not to come into contact with it, if at all possible. We are carrying out surveillance at GPs and A&E departments and we’re targeting that, as much as we can, to the local areas where people have seen flooding.”

So what exactly is norovirus you may wonder? Norovirus is the most common stomach bug in the UK and the NHS say that between 600,000 and a million people catch it each year in the UK.

The bad news is that you can be affected by it numerous time during your lifetime as the virus is continually changing and there is no specific cure for it. The good news is that with the right self-care you should be able to make a good recovery within a few days without the need to see your doctor.

Symptoms of the highly contagious norovirus usually rear their ugly head within a day or two after you have become infected and include: abdominal pain, aching limbs, diarrhoea, high temperature and vomiting.

Once your symptoms arise it is essential to stay at home to prevent passing the infection on to others and do not prepare food for anyone else until a minimum of 48 hours after the symptoms have passed.

The bug is typically transferred from contact with an infected person or contaminated surfaces and objects, for instance touching the same doors or stair rails as somebody who has the virus.

Although you can get the norovirus at any time of the year, as its name ‘the winter vomiting bug’ would suggest, it is particularly prominent through the winter season.

Medical Specialists Pharmacy advise those affected to drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration, take paracetamol for aches and pains, try eating food easy to digest, like bread, pasta, rice, or soup and as mentioned earlier, stay at home until your symptoms subside.

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