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Experts Say Norovirus Increase from Contaminated Floodwater is Unlikely

February 13, 2014
Public Health

floodwaterAs Britain faces more severe weather, Public Health England experts have said that an increase in norovirus cases is unlikely, despite thousands being exposed to contaminated floodwaters.

Consultant Debbie Stark from PHE’s Devon, Cornwall, and Somerset centre, where some of the worst floods have hit, said “It’s unsurprising that samples of floodwater have demonstrated the presence of bacteria normally found outside. This should not be compared to bathing or drinking water. Tap water is unaffected. All our experience from previous floods tells us that where people follow health advice there are no significantly increased rates of gastro-enteric illness.”

Examination of reports from GPs and hospitals is being focused on areas most affected in order to ensure any outbreak is detected as early as possible. In summer 2007, 55,000 properties were flooded but figures did not show any significant increase in cases.

Comprehensive guidance for affected homeowners has been posted on the PHE website, with people being warned to wash their hands regularly (particularly before eating) and to dress open wounds. Homeowners are also being advised that a contamination risk will still exist even when floodwaters subside.

In a separate story, EHOs are assisting with the police investigation into the death of a seven year old boy who fell ill in a flooded house in Chertsey, Surrey. Samples taken have so far concluded that contaminated floodwater was not to blame.

PHE Flood Advice can be found here