What is Norovirus?
Norovirus is highly contagious, and is particularly prevalent in schools and nurseries as the virus can survive for several days on surfaces or objects. It can, however, affect people of all ages and cause vomiting and diarrhoea. There is no cure for Norovirus, so it has to be left to run its course. The symptoms are unpleasant and can initially be quite distressing, but they shouldn’t last more than a couple of days. Adults and children with Norovirus symptoms should avoid visiting GP surgeries or hospitals to prevent the further spread of Norovirus.
Because the virus is highly contagious, children who have Norovirus symptoms must remain off school or nursery for 48 hours after the last episode of vomiting or diarrhoea to stop the spread of infection with other children or staff.
Different types of Norovirus
Norovirus is the most common cause of stomach bugs in the UK, with at least 25 different strains known to affect humans. Each year, it’s estimated that between 600,000 and 1 million people in the UK catch Norovirus – because there are so many strains, we don’t develop an immunity to it. The virus is sometimes called the “winter vomiting bug” because it’s more common in winter. However, you can catch the virus at any time of the year.
How do you treat Norovirus?
To treat the symptoms of Norovirus, we recommend the following for children and young people:
- Ensure they are drinking plenty of water to avoid dehydration
- Give them liquid paracetamol for any fever or aches and pains
- If they feel like eating, give them easy to digest foods such as bananas, or brown rice.
- Stay at home – There is nothing the GP can prescribe for sickness and diarrhoea, although your local chemist may be able to provide rehydration solutions
- Contact your GP or NHS 111 to seek advice if the symptoms last longer than a few days or visit nhs.uk/norovirus for more information
Preventing Norovirus spread
Norovirus is easily spread and you can catch it simply by touching contaminated surfaces or objects.
Early years staff, teachers, school staff, and parents can help to prevent the spread of Norovirus by:
- Washing hands frequently with household soap, and encouraging children to do the same –especially after toileting
- Ensuring that any infected child is not sharing things such as toys, blankets etc.
- Keeping any child with Norovirus symptoms home from school and away from other children where possible. Children with Norovirus should also avoid contact with vulnerable adults such as elderly relatives
For further information visit nhs.uk/norovirus or contact NHS111.