Norovirus: the bug that spells trouble this winter

 The winter vomiting bug as it’s commonly known is said to have over a million cases each year, although it’s suspected to be much higher since many people do not report their symptoms.

The Norovirus is very contagious; spread through direct contact with an infected person, as well as touching contaminated surfaces then putting your unwashed hands in your mouth, as well as consuming contaminated food and water. It is the most common stomach bug in the UK and since it can survive for several days on surfaces and objects, it is particularly prevalent in schools, but it affects people of all ages and can be spread to all environments.

The symptoms are unpleasant; vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, aches and pains can be quite distressing at first, but the good news is, they don’t last more than a couple of days.

There is no cure for the virus, it simply has to be left to run its course. In fact, adults and children with the symptoms of the norovirus are advised NOT to visit GP (doctor) surgeries or hospitals in order to prevent the further spread of the virus.   The National Health Service (NHS) also advises children to remain off school for 48 hours after their last episode of vomiting or diarrhea in order to stop the spread to other children and staff.

In order to prevent getting the virus and spreading it to others, follow these simple steps:

  • Wash your hands often
  • Cook shellfish thoroughly
  • Rinse fruits and vegetables before eating them

To treat the symptoms of Norovirus, the NHS recommends the following for children and young people:

  • Ensure you drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
  • Take liquid paracetamol for any fever or aches and pains.
  • If you feel like eating, eat easy to digest foods such as bananas or brown rice.
  • Stay at home – there is nothing the GP can prescribe for sickness and diarrhoea, although your local chemist may be able to provide rehydration solutions.

If you already have a serious illness or health concern, contact your school nurse, let your housemaster/matron and guardian know and they will contact your GP to seek advice.

For more information on the winter vomiting bug visit nhs.uk/norovirus for more information.

*Colds: a common infection in which the mucous membrane of the nose and throat becomes inflamed, typically causing running at the nose, sneezing, and a sore throat.

*bug: a harmful microorganism, typically a bacterium.