Queen Elizabeth II has been taken to King Edward VII's Hospital in London's West End, reportedly suffering from the effects of gastroenteritis, according to the BBC on March 3. The illness forced her to cancel some events last weekend and remain at Windsor Castle, Sky News states. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control notes that the elderly, and the Queen is 86, are at greater risk of complications from the nausea, vomiting and diarrhea caused by gastroenteritis.
The illness apparently began affecting the Queen as the weekend began. Hospitalization would be, in general, a precaution for an elderly patient with the illness, also called the "stomach flu". Treatment would include IV fluids to rehydrate the patient and anti-nausea medications. The Queen is expected to be observed in the hospital for two days. All events on her schedule for the week has been cancelled or postponed.
The primary cause of gastroenteritis in England and Wales is the norovirus, the Health Protection Agency reports. The illnesses cause by the norovirus peak in Great Britain from January through April, although the 2012-2013 season saw a peak in late December. The agency recorded 51 confirmed hospital outbreaks in January and 1,254 for all of 2012. The CDC states that outbreaks often occur in such institutional settings.
Norovirus outbreaks can occur in institutional settings, such as schools, child care facilities, and nursing homes, and can occur in other group settings, such as banquet halls, cruise ships, dormitories, and campgrounds.
The virus is highly contagious. It can spread through personal contact, through food preparation or by contact with contaminated surfaces and fabrics.