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Tummy trouble sends queen to hospital, cancels trip to Rome

| Sunday, March 3, 2013, 7:12 p.m.

LONDON — Britain's Queen Elizabeth II was hospitalized on Sunday over an apparent stomach infection that has ailed her for days, a rare instance of ill health sidelining the long-reigning monarch.

The queen was taken to London's King Edward VII Hospital by private car from Windsor Castle on the advice of her physician, John Cunningham.

A Buckingham Palace spokesman said the 86-year-old was in “good spirits” and was otherwise in “good health.” Stressing that she was admitted as a “precautionary measure,” he said, “This is simply to enable doctors to better assess her.”

The palace said the queen had experienced symptoms of gastroenteritis. It was the first time in a decade that Elizabeth has been hospitalized.

“All official engagements for this week will regrettably be either postponed or cancelled,” the palace said in a statement. A two-day trip to Rome had been planned to start on Wednesday.

The symptoms of gastroenteritis — vomiting and diarrhea — usually pass after one or two days, though they can be more severe in older or otherwise vulnerable people. Dehydration is a common complication.

The illness was first announced Friday, and Elizabeth had to cancel a visit to Swansea, Wales, on Saturday to honor soldiers of the Royal Welsh Regiment on Wales' national day.

A doctor not involved in the queen's treatment said that if medical officials determined that she is losing too much fluid, she would be rehydrated intravenously.

“Not everyone can keep up with oral hydration, so it is pretty routine to go to hospital and have a drip and wait for the thing to pass and keep yourself hydrated,” said Dr. Christopher Hawkey of the University of Nottingham's faculty of medicine.

Britain has been hard hit this winter by the norovirus, a vomiting bug that typically afflicts between 600,000 and 1 million Britons each year.

“It's very infectious and strikes in winter because people are indoors and it spreads more easily,” Hawkey said.

Elizabeth, who has ruled since 1952, is Britain's second-longest serving monarch.

She was last admitted to the hospital in 2003 for surgery to remove torn cartilage in her right knee and non-cancerous lesions from her face.

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