Data from the HPA show that in the 2012 season – weeks 27 to 51 of the year – there were 3,877 laboratory confirmed cases of norovirus, up from 2,255 cases over the same period in 2011.
Experts believe that for every laboratory-confirmed case, there are a further 288 unreported cases of the illness.
Cases dropped over the Christmas period as expected, but the HPA is predicting a further surge in early 2013.
Experts have been unable to identify why norovirus cases have risen earlier than expected in the UK and other parts of the world this winter.
John Harris, an expert in norovirus from the HPA said: ‘As we have seen in previous years there has been a dip in the number of confirmed laboratory reports owing to the Christmas and New Year period. However, in line with other norovirus seasons we will expect to see an increase in the number of laboratory reports in the next few weeks.’