Norovirus, also known as the winter vomiting bug, is highly infectious and causes vomiting and diarrhoea. Norovirus is easily transmitted through contact with infected individuals and any surfaces or objects which have been contaminated with virus shed by these individuals.
The latest data from Public Health England shows that norovirus activity for weeks 48 and 49 was 67% higher than the five season average for the same period (2014/15 to 2018/19).
Symptoms of norovirus include sudden onset of nausea, projectile vomiting and diarrhoea but can also include a high temperature, abdominal pain and aching limbs. These symptoms typically last about 24 to 48 hours without medical intervention, norovirus cannot be treated with antibiotics.
5 ways to beat the bug:
- Stay at home if you are experiencing norovirus symptoms. Do not return to work or send children to school until 48 hours after symptoms have cleared. Also avoid visiting elderly or poorly relatives, particularly if they are in hospital
- Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and warm water. Alcohol hand gels don’t kill norovirus
- When an infected person vomits, the droplets contaminate the surrounding surfaces. A bleach-based household cleaner or a combination of bleach and hot water should be used to disinfect potentially contaminated household surfaces and commonly used objects such as toilets, taps, telephones, door handles and kitchen surfaces
- If you are ill, avoid cooking and helping prepare meals for others until 48 hours after symptoms have stopped, as norovirus can be spread through food contaminated by the virus when food is handled by symptomatic/infected individuals
- Wash any contaminated clothing or bedding using detergent and at 60°C, and if possible wear disposable gloves to handle contaminated items
Do not visit your GP surgery or local hospital while symptomatic and until 48 hours after the symptoms have stopped. If you are concerned contact NHS 111 or talk to your GP by phone.
The incubation period of norovirus is 10-48 hours, which is the time between catching the virus and developing symptoms. Individuals can pass on norovirus or shed the virus onto surfaces and objects during this period but are most infectious while symptomatic.
Elderly people, young children and those with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop more severe symptoms which last longer and are therefore most at risk of becoming dehydrated. Dehydration occurs because your body is losing water and salts from vomiting and diarrhoea, so it is important to drink plenty of fluids to avoid this.