Skip to main content

Norovirus

Norovirus, which causes diarrhoea and vomiting, is one of the most common stomach bugs in the UK, especially during the winter months. You can usually treat yourself or your child at home. You should start to feel better in 2 to 3 days. Norovirus is highly contagious.

Symptoms of Norovirus will include:

  • Watery diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Painful stomach cramps
  • Aching limbs
  • Suddenly feeling sick
  • Fever
  • Headaches

Norovirus is highly contagious and spreads easily in public places such as workplaces and public transport. If you catch the infection, be careful not to spread it to other people. You can catch it via:

  • Contact with someone who has norovirus – they can easily pass the virus to you directly
  • Touching contaminated surfaces or objects – norovirus has the ability to survive outside of the body on surfaces for up to several days
  • Eating contaminated foods – foods could become infectious if a person who already has Norovirus doesn’t wash their hands before handling food.

An individual with Norovirus is at their most contagious from when their symptoms start until 48 hours after the symptoms have passed.

To stop the spread of Norovirus you need to do the following:

  • Stay off work or school until at least 48 hours after the symptoms have passed
  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water, particularly after using the toilet and before preparing food. Try not to rely solely on anti-bacterial or alcohol hand gels as these do not kill the virus
  • Flush away any infected poo or vomit in the toilet. Ideally disinfect the toilet seat and flush after use
  • Avoid preparing product for others, and avoid eating raw, unwashed produce. – only eat oysters from a reliable source as oysters can carry traces of Norovirus
  • Disinfect any surfaces or objects that could be contaminated using a bleach-based household cleaner – such as house phones, work surfaces and bannisters
  • Immediately remove and wash clothing or linens that may be contaminated with vomit or poo. Handle soiled items carefully—try not to shake them —to avoid spreading virus. If available, wear disposable gloves while handling soiled clothing or linens and wash your hands after handling. Wash soiled items with detergent at the maximum available cycle length and then machine dry
  • Don't share towels and flannels

It is important to have plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. Drink water or squash and avoid fruit juice or fizzy drinks. Take small sips if you are feeling sick.

Eat only when you feel able to. You do not need to eat or avoid any particular type of food.

Get advice from 111 now if:

  • you're worried about a baby under 12 months
  • your child stops breast or bottle feeding while they're ill
  • a child under 5 years has signs of dehydration – such as fewer wet nappies
  • you or your child (over 5 years) still have signs of dehydration after using oral rehydration sachets
  • you or your child keep being sick and cannot keep fluid down
  • you or your child have bloody diarrhoea or bleeding from the bottom
  • you or your child have diarrhoea for more than 7 days or vomiting for more than 2 days

Call 999 or go to A&E if you or your child:

  • vomit blood or have vomit that looks like ground coffee
  • have bright green or yellow vomit
  • might have swallowed something poisonous
  • have a stiff neck and pain when looking at bright lights
  • have a sudden, severe headache or stomach ache