Noroviruses are Britain’s most common cause of infectious gastroenteritis, also known as “winter vomiting disease” or “stomach flu”.

NHS Choices

Along with the joyous holiday festivities of Christmas, winter is the season for cold, flu and the dreaded norovirus or ‘sickness bug’. According the Health Protection Agency’s latest figures, the 2012 norovirus outbreak is already considerably higher than figures from the same period last year, and the number of people affected by the outbreak (approx. 68,000 in the last week) is expected to continue to rise.

Much like the common cold, the ‘sickness bug’ is contracted through contact with an infected person and from contaminated surfaces, such as door handles. Symptoms usually begin between 24 and 48 hours, after infection with the virus, and is marked by nausea followed by vomiting and diarrhoea. It can take 2 to 3 days for symptoms to disappear.

To help decrease the risk of catching norovirus or passing it on to others, it is important to be conscientious about hygiene; wash your hands frequently, especially after going to the toilet and before eating or preparing food. Also, remember to wash raw fruits and vegetables properly before eating. 

If you contract norovirus, it is very important to keep hydrated and stay home for at least 48 hours after symptoms disappear. Again, hygiene is paramount and hands should be washed frequently before eating. Anyone with norovirus or recovering from the infection is advised not to prepare food for others until at least 3 days after symptoms have disappeared.

For more information about nororvirus visit the NHS Choices website.

Image: 123RF

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