What is norovirus and what are the symptoms? – The Sun | The Sun

What is norovirus and what are the symptoms? – The Sun | The Sun


NASTY bugs are on the rise once again this winter so it's important you know what to look out for.

Sometimes referred to as the 'winter vomiting bug', norovirus is a highly infectious – and unpleasant – viral illness.

Those who are unlucky enough to suffer it will usually experience vomiting and or diarrhoea.

As kids went back to school earlier this year, it's important to look out for norovirus as it's more common in the winter months and outbreaks can occur in school settings.

In an update from the NHS on January 7, it was found that almost 3,000 critical care and general acute beds had been closed due to Covid or norovirus.

But the most recent data from the UK Health Security Agency shows that norovirus cases remain lower than the five year average.

With Covid cases still rising across the UK, Brits have to be on high alert to another type of sickness.

But what are the symptoms of norovirus and how long does it last? Here’s what you need to know about the unpleasant virus…

What is norovirus?

Norovirus is one of the most common stomach bugs in the UK and is also referred to as “the winter vomiting bug”, although it can affect people all year round.

It is very unpleasant but it usually clears itself up in a few days.

Dr Lesley Larkin, Surveillance Lead, Gastrointestinal Infections and Food Safety, UK Health Security Agency, said: "Practising good hygiene is important to prevent the spread of norovirus infection.

"This includes hand washing with soap and warm water regularly and thoroughly, especially after using the toilet or an episode of illness and before eating or preparing food."

What are the symptoms of norovirus? 

According to the NHS website, you are likely to have caught norovirus if you experience a sudden sick feeling, projectile vomiting and watery diarrhoea.

The main symptoms are:

  • Feeling sick (nausea)
  • Diarrhoea
  • Being sick (vomiting)

You may also have:

  • A high temperature
  • A headache
  • Aching arms and legs

Dr Larkin added: “If you do get ill, drink plenty of fluids during that time to prevent dehydration especially in the very young, elderly or those with weakened immunity.

"Those experiencing diarrhoea and vomiting should not return to work or send unwell children to school until at least 48 hours after symptoms have cleared and ideally should also not prepare food during this time either.

"We advise people with symptoms to avoid visiting GP surgeries and hospitals, however if they are concerned they should talk to their GP by phone or contact NHS 111 or visit the NHS choices norovirus webpage.”

How long do norovirus symptoms last?

Norovirus symptoms usually start between 12 and 48 hours of being infected with the bug.

Most people will start to feel better in two to three days.

The NHS says: "Stay off school or work until you have not been sick or had diarrhoea for at least 2 days. This is when you're most infectious.

"Do not visit hospitals or care homes during this time."

There are some unfortunate cases in which the virus can linger in the intestines for weeks – or even months.

And you should get advice by ringing 111 if you are still throwing up after two days, or having diarrhoea for more than seven days.

The same goes for children, and it is important to keep out for dehydration signs, especially if this isn't fixed with oral rehydration sachets.

Call 999 if you or your child's sick has blood in it, is green or yellow or looks like ground coffee. Signs like a stiff neck, pain when looking at lights or a sudden severe headache or stomach ache also warrant calling 999, the NHS says.

How does norovirus spread?

The virus easily spreads around public places and is transmitted when a tiny particle of vomit or poo from an infected person gets into someone else’s mouth.

That sounds a bit gross and unlikely but it can happen – in particular when you touch a contaminated surface and then put your hand in your mouth – or if you eat food which has been contaminated.

You can also catch it if you are in close proximity to an infected person and they breathe on you.

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