ALMOST 880,000 people nationally could have been affected by an outbreak of the winter vomiting bug, health officials believe.

And many of those are in Huddersfield, with health chiefs now urging people to take precautions.

The number of laboratory confirmed cases of norovirus is 83% higher than the same time last year, the Health Protection Agency (HPA) said.

There have been 3,046 confirmed cases of norovirus in England and Wales, but for every reported case there are likely to be a further 288 unreported sufferers, the HPA added.

Dr Judith Hooper, director of public health for Kirklees, said levels in Kirklees were on a par with the national picture.

Dr Hooper said: “Norovirus, sometimes called the ‘winter vomiting bug’ is highly contagious, but normally short lived and most people get better after about 24-48 hours.

“People with symptoms should avoid going to Accident and Emergency and instead stay at home, ensure they wash their hands thoroughly after using the toilet, avoid contact with others where possible, drink plenty of fluids and let nature take its course.

“People should also avoid visiting relatives in hospitals and care homes until they are fully recovered.

“If after 72 hours there is little or no difference, or the symptoms become worse, an appointment with a GP should be made, or NHS Direct can offer free, confidential advice on 0845 4647.”

Last winter there were just 1,669 cases, so the bug has taken hold of people this year.

Norovirus is highly contagious and can be transmitted through contact with an infected person or contaminated surfaces and objects.

Experts say it is known to spread rapidly in closed environments such as hospitals, schools and nursing homes. Symptoms include sudden vomiting, diarrhoea, or both, a temperature, headache and stomach cramps.

Although people can suffer from norovirus at any time of the year, activity increases in the winter months, with most cases seen between January and March.

John Harris, who is an expert in norovirus at the HPA, said: “Most people will not need to go to see their doctor and will recover in a couple of days. It is important to take plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.”

A Department of Health spokesman said the NHS was well prepared for the increase in winter-related health problems.

Around 2% of beds have been closed due to norovirus symptoms down from 2.9% last winter.


Drink plenty of fluids – try to have the equivalent of five mugs or glasses per day.

Drink through a straw as it can help if you feel sick.

Do not take medicines that stop diarrhoea (for example Loperamide) as this may delay your recovery.