A Japanese hospital in the city of Daito, Osaka Prefecture has been identified as the central point of a norovirus outbreak which has taken the lives of two patients. Officials say the outbreak began on November 27th, and another 48 people, all patients and medical staff at the hospital, have contracted the virus. The two who died were a 88 year old woman and 76 year old man, each succumbing to organ failure.
Doctors say the most common symptoms of norovirus are repeated vomiting and diarrhea, but most often begins to decrease after one or two days. However, young children and the elderly are often susceptible to dehydration, which can cause additional problems or affect chronic diseases. The local Japanese authorities say they are still trying to identify the exact source of where the virus was transmitted from, but infections are easily passed from person to person, as well as by eating contaminated food or touching contaminated surfaces.
As 2012 has turned out to have one of the highest norovirus infection rates ever recorded, the National Institute of Infectious Diseases has issued a warning of a possible epidemic. After looking at data from 3,000 of Japan’s medical institutions, it was found that the average number of norovirus patients per hospital was 11.39 during the week of November 12th to 18th, the highest number since 2006.[via Kyodo]