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THE number of cases of [...].

THE number of cases of the winter vomiting bug has remained unusually high, data shows.

Despite falling since the January peak, the number of cases in early March was nearly 50% higher than a year earlier.

The total for this winter is the highest on record, says the Health Protection Agency. Part of the increase could be better reporting. Experts think the cold winter might also have contributed. Norovirus causes projectile vomiting, diarrhoea and fever symptoms. It is rarely dangerous and usually people get better in a couple of days.

It transmits very easily from person to person and can quickly spread in closed communities. Hospitals around the country have been affected by this winter's surge in the number of cases.

Latest figures show that there were 152 ward closures or restrictions to admissions due to Norovirus in the first three weeks of February. Hugh Pennington, emeritus professor of bacteriology at Aberdeen University, said it was "a bit of a puzzle" why the figures were so high. "This virus is already very good at transmitting from person to person, and it might have become even better at getting about," he explained.

"If so, this would have produced many more cases, although it doesn't mean that they are more serious."
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Apr 5, 2010
Words:209
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