Norovirus (winter vomiting bug)

Between 600,000 and 1 million people in the UK catch Norovirus every year.

The virus, which is highly contagious, causes vomiting and diarrhoea. As there is no specific cure, you have to let it run its course, but it should not last more than a couple of days. The period from when you are infected to when you start to show symptoms (known as the incubation period) usually lasts 12-48 hours. During this time, you may be infectious to other people.

The virus is easily spread by contact with an infected person, especially through their hands. You can also catch it through contaminated food or drink or by touching contaminated surfaces or objects. Outbreaks in busy places such as hospitals, nursing homes and schools are common because the virus can survive for several days on surfaces or objects touched by an infected person.

Using anti-bacterial cleaners such as the clinell range and combat the norovirus but so can washing your hands. Good peronnel hygene can reduce the risk.

Symptoms of Norovirus infection

The symptoms of Norovirus illness normally start 24 – 48 hours after the initial infection. The commonest symptoms are:

  • Vomiting
  • Watery diarrhoea

Some people may also have:

  • mild fever
  • headaches
  • stomach cramps
  • aching limbs

Treament of Norovirus Infection

There is no specific treatment for a Norovirus infection, but the symptoms can lead to dehydration which is a particular concern for the vulnerable groups – children, the elderly, and those with other illnesses. Those who have a Norovirus infection should drink plenty of fluids, which can include re-hydration products, and eat a light diet.

Most people are free of symptoms after two to three days, although they may still be carriers of the virus for several days longer. Norovirus is thought to contribute to the deaths of about 80 people in the UK each year, most being elderly with other serious health problems.