Norovirus – five ways to beat the winter bug
With more cases of Norovirus being reported across the county, Shropshire Council’s public health team are reminding people, in particular children, families and vulnerable adults, of the steps to take to help prevent the spread of Norovirus.
Symptoms of norovirus include sudden onset of nausea, projectile vomiting and diarrhoea but can also include a high temperature, abdominal pain and aching limbs. These symptoms typically last about 24 to 48 hours without medical intervention: norovirus cannot be treated with antibiotics.
Five ways to beat the bug:
- Stay at home if you are experiencing norovirus symptoms. Do not return to work or send children to school until 48 hours after symptoms have cleared. Also avoid visiting elderly or poorly relatives, particularly if they are in hospital.
- Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and warm water. Alcohol hand gels don’t kill norovirus.
- When an infected person vomits, the droplets contaminate the surrounding surfaces. A bleach-based household cleaner or a combination of bleach and hot water should be used to disinfect potentially contaminated household surfaces and commonly used objects such as toilets, taps, telephones, door handles and kitchen surfaces.
- If you are ill, avoid cooking and helping prepare meals for others until 48 hours after symptoms have stopped, as norovirus can be spread through food contaminated by the virus when food is handled by symptomatic people/infected individuals.
- Wash any contaminated clothing or bedding using detergent and at 60°C, and if possible wear disposable gloves to handle contaminated items.
People are also being advised not visit their GP surgery or local hospital while symptomatic and until 48 hours after the symptoms have stopped. If you are concerned contact NHS 111 or talk to your GP by phone.
Rachel Robinson, Shropshire Council’s director of public health, said:
“We have recently seen an increase in Norovirus across Shropshire, so we just want raise awareness of the virus and what you can do to help prevent contracting it.
“Although an infection with Norovirus is self-limiting, and most people will make a full recovery in a few days, it is important to keep hydrated – especially children and older people.
“Also, with the current demand on health services across Shropshire, if you or your family members have had diarrhoea, vomiting or ‘flu-like’ symptoms in the last 48 hours, please try to avoid visiting A&E or GPs with symptoms, for at least 48 hours after their symptoms have gone, to prevent spreading the virus.”
Advice for parents and carers
How can you prevent the spread of these infections?
Hand washing is one of the most important ways to prevent the spread of both of these infections. This applies to the child who is ill and the person looking after them.
Hands should always be washed, using liquid soap if possible:
- Before and after caring for your child
- After using the toilet
- Before eating or handling food
- After cleaning up a mess (vomit, faeces or urine)
Children are particularly at risk of picking up infections and spreading them to other people. The NHS have released this song aimed at Children, to help teach them the proper handwashing technique. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9VjeIWLnEg
Other ways of preventing the spread of infection are to:
- Keep a separate towel for family members who have symptoms
- Dispose promptly of used tissues and other items that your child may have coughed or sneezed on
- Wash soiled clothing, bed linen and towels in a washing machine. Use the hottest wash for that fabric
- Clean baths and washbasins thoroughly and disinfect after use
- If cleaning up diarrhoea or vomit, wash the surface with hot soapy water and disinfect before allowing to dry. If using bleach remember that it can remove the colour from fabrics and can burn the skin.
Please keep your child away from other children and people that are particularly vulnerable, eg older people and those with chronic illnesses.
For further information and advice visit https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/norovirus/.
Norovirus, also called ‘winter vomiting bug’ because it usually occurs during the winter months, is the most frequent cause of infectious gastro-enteritis in England and Wales, and affects 600,000 to one million people in the United Kingdom every year.
It is highly contagious and is transmitted by contact with contaminated surfaces, an infected person, or by consuming contaminated food or water. These stomach bugs can also spread rapidly anywhere that people are gathered, such as schools or offices.
Norovirus activity has started earlier this winter and laboratory confirmed cases are higher than average for this time of year. There have been 104 outbreaks reported since July 2019. Of those 104 outbreaks 92 or 88 per cent resulted in ward or bay closures and 71 of which were laboratory confirmed as norovirus.