The HSE has told people to be aware of norovirus symptoms, as cases of the infection have almost quadrupled from levels at this time last year.
Norovirus, also known as the winter vomit bug, is an “easily spread” virus that causes a sudden onset of vomiting and diarrhea, reports RTE.
The Health Security Observatory said in a statement this morning that a total of 394 cases were registered in the first ten weeks of this year.
That’s nearly four times the number recorded in the same phase last year, when 109 were confirmed.
The HSE said children and the elderly were hardest hit, with 50% of cases seen in people over the age of 65 and 28% in children under the age of five.
In addition to the main symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea, the executive said people are also likely to have norovirus if they have a low-grade fever, headache, abdominal pain and pain in their limbs, reports RTE.
It is urging people to learn how to stop the spread amid a surge in cases.
Tips to prevent the spread of the parasite include frequent hand washing and thorough cleaning of contaminated surfaces, reports RTE.
HPSC consultant in public health medicine Dr Paul McKeown has said the virus lasts for a long time on surfaces, adding: “If you touch a surface contaminated with norovirus and then touch your mouth, this can make you sick. Cleaning your hands with soap and water is the best protection against catching norovirus and it is important to note that alcohol hand gels do not work against the virus,” reports RTE.
He added: “Norovirus infection is usually mild and lasts only a day or two. However, young children and elderly people can become very sick. People who get sick with norovirus can still spread the infection after their symptoms have gone and there is no treatment for norovirus infection. As a result of pandemic restrictions, there was very little norovirus reported in the last few years, but over the last number of months, cases are beginning to rise again,” reports RTE.
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