Your health & local services
Know about Norovirus
Norovirus, also known as the winter vomiting bug, is one of the most common stomach bugs in the UK, affecting between 600,000 and 1 million people in the UK each year. And, despite its name, you can catch it at any time of the year.
The virus is highly-contagious, and although it can be unpleasant, it’s not usually dangerous for people in general good health, and most people make a full recovery within a couple of days without having to see their GP.
The virus can, however, be more serious for patients who are already weak and may result in them having to stay in hospital for longer. Outbreaks at hospitals have previously been directly linked to family members who had recently been unwell with the virus but had continued to visit a relative, despite being likely to still be infectious.
People experiencing symptoms of norovirus are therefore advised to stay at home, not to go in to hospital to visit friends or relatives and to be extra vigilant in terms of hygiene.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms include sudden onset of nausea (feeling sick), vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach pains or cramps, headaches, fever and tiredness.
If you are unsure of your symptoms and want healthcare advice, then call NHS 111 in the first instance for free healthcare advice and signposting.
How to stop the spread of norovirus
There are simple measures that you can take to avoid catching or spreading the virus: wash your hands regularly with soap and water, avoid sharing towels and ensure you disinfect surfaces that an infected person may have touched.
Outbreaks of norovirus in public places, such as hospitals, nursing homes, schools and nurseries, are common because the virus can survive for several days on surfaces or objects touched by an infected person.
While you have symptoms you should not prepare food for others, and avoid direct contact with others for at least 48 hours after your symptoms disappear.
You should also drink plenty of fluids to avoid becoming dehydrated.
If symptoms last longer than a few days, or if you already have a serious illness, you should contact your GP.
Children with norovirus
Children with norovirus should therefore stay at home until at least two days after they are symptom free.
This helps prevent them from spreading the virus to classmates, including other children with serious health conditions who may be more vulnerable to infection.