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Norovirus: The latest epidemic that wasn't
About the author: 

Britons have been quaking in their boots since the turn of the New Year in full anticipation of being struck down by the norovirus, which was expected to send three million of them to the toilet

Britons have been quaking in their boots since the turn of the New Year in full anticipation of being struck down by the norovirus, which was expected to send three million of them to the toilet. Very regularly.

But with every good health scare, nothing of the sort happened. In fact, 2008 has been very much the same as every other year, certainly as far as the norovirus is concerned. In the event, it has affected around 600,000 people - the same number it infects every year - who have endured the worst effects of the virus, which amounts to 48 hours of vomiting or diarrhea.

So how come our health pundits got it so wrong? The norovirus struck early this year, and around 2,000 cases were reported by doctors. The Health Protection Agency reckons just one in 1,500 cases is ever reported, and so - by simple mathematics - we arrive at a likely strike rate of 3 million. Except that it didn't happen.

Of course, it would be irresponsible of us to say the same of avian flu, which was estimated to kill 2 million of us two years ago. Still, they did sell billions of pounds of drugs to protect us.

(Source: Every newspaper in Great Britain).


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