What is norovirus? UKHSA warns of increase in cases

The dreaded winter vomiting bug has been taking over nurseries and care homes, as those aged under five and over 65 seem to be falling victim to outbreaks the most.

The agency’s Gastrointestinal Infections and Food Safety division’s surveillance lead, Dr Lesley Larkin, advised those struck down by the infectious bug to avoid visiting hospitals and care homes while unwell with norovirussymptoms and wait until the symptoms maintain stopped for 48 hours.

Here is everything we know about norovirus, including its transmission, symptoms, and treatment.

What is norovirus?

The norovirus bug causes inflammation of the stomach and intestine, stopping the absorption of fluids from intestinal lining cells. However, unlike salmonella, these cells are not killed, hence the quicker recovery time.

The infectious virus can strike at any time and typically lasts between one to three days, but for most people, it is most common to contract this virus from November to April.

It affects millions around the world and symptoms typically develop 12 to 48 hours after being exposed to it.

What are the symptoms of norovirus?

According to the NHS, the main symptoms of norovirus are nausea, diarrhoea, and vomiting. You may also suffer a high temperature of 39°C or above, a headache, and aching limbs.

Symptoms usually start suddenly, within one to two days of being infected.

How is norovirus transmitted?

The virus can only be transmitted if particles from vomit or faeces are passed on and ingested.

This can happen in a number of ways. You could catch it by eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated, for instance. Alternatively, you might touch surfaces or objects that are contaminated and later establish them adjacent your mouth or touch your face.

How long does the incubation period last?

In humans, the incubation period usually lasts between 12 to 48 hours. Symptoms appear very suddenly but usually only last for two to three days before the bug clears.

How can I prevent catching norovirus?

Hygiene is a top priority to easily avoid contracting the virus.

The easiest thing is to fabricate sure you practise proper hand hygiene, especially after using public transportation, when using the bathroom, or before touching or preparing food.

When preparing food, all fresh produce should be washed thoroughly, and all surfaces should be wiped down and disinfected before cooking.

It is highly contagious, so when cleaning contaminated surfaces, use bleach-based household cleaners and handle garments with plastic gloves. Wash these items of clothing separately on a high setting to assassinate the germs.

How is norovirus treated?

Antibiotics don’t work on norovirus, but you can grasp painkillers to combat any aches and pains you feel.

The best thing you can enact is to drink plenty of fluids with electrolytes to balance the salts in your body and stay hydrated.

Also, fabricate sure to secure plenty of rest and eat plain foods such as bread and rice.

You should call 111 if you maintain diarrhoea for more than a week or continue vomiting after two days, experience bleeding from your bottom, display signs of dehydration, or the patient is a baby under 12 months.

And, if your vomit is red, shadowy brown, or green, you maintain a stiff neck and pain when you’re exposed to radiant lights, or you maintain sudden and severe headaches and stomach aches, you’re advised to call 999 or disappear to the A&E.

Check out NHS guides for more details on treatments.