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North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust - 70 years of the NHS

Norovirus


About norovirus

Norovirus, sometimes known as the winter vomiting bug, is the most common stomach bug in the UK.

The virus is highly contagious. It can affect people of all ages and causes vomiting and diarrhoea. Norovirus can be particularly dangerous for people who are already ill or who have a long-term condition.

Preventing norovirus spreading

Norovirus is easily spread. If an infected person doesn't wash their hands before handling food, they can pass the virus on to others. You can also catch it by touching contaminated surfaces or objects.

Outbreaks of norovirus in public places, such as hospitals, nursing homes and schools, are common because the virus can survive for several days on surfaces or objects touched by an infected person.

If you have norovirus, you may continue to be infectious for a short period after your symptoms stop. You should therefore avoid preparing food and direct contact with others for at least 48 hours after your symptoms disappear.

Good hand hygiene can help to limit the spread of the infection and there are some simple steps that the public can take to help stop a norovirus spreading:

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and warm water, particularly after using the toilet, and before preparing food. If you’re in an NHS facility, pay attention to hand hygiene notices such as using hand gel upon entering and leaving a ward.
  • Disinfect any surfaces or objects that could be contaminated with norovirus. It is best to use a bleach-based household cleaner. Always follow the instructions on the cleaning product.
  • Flush away any infected faeces or vomit in the toilet. You should also keep the surrounding toilet area clean and hygienic.
  • Wash any clothing, or linens, which could have become contaminated with a norovirus. Washing with hot, soapy water will help to ensure that the virus is killed.
  • Although people usually recover without treatment in 24-72 hours, it is important to stay away from work, school, college or any social gatherings until you have been free of symptoms for at least 48 hours.

    If you have norovirus, the best thing you can do is rest, and drink plenty of non-caffeinated drinks to avoid dehydration.