Norovirus: help stop the spread this winter

  • 19 November 2019

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Local doctors are encouraging people to help stop the spread of norovirus this winter, by taking simple steps to avoid infection and staying away from health and care settings if you have symptoms.

Norovirus is a stomach bug that causes vomiting and diarrhoea, it’s often referred to as a ‘winter vomiting bug’. It’s one of the most common stomach bugs in the UK.

The virus normally appears during the colder winter months and is highly contagious.

Dr Jonathan Hayes, local GP and Clinical Chair at Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, said:

“There is no vaccine or immediate treatment for norovirus – prevention is the best form of defence. One of the best ways to protect against norovirus is by practicing good hygiene. This includes thorough hand washing with soap and warm water after using the toilet and before eating or preparing foods.

“Most people will make a full recovery within a couple of days but it is important to drink plenty of fluids during that time to prevent dehydration especially in the very young, elderly or those with weakened immunity.

“Also, if you are experiencing symptoms of norovirus please don’t visit hospitals, GP surgeries or care homes. The impact can be huge if you spread norovirus – not just on vulnerable patients who are already unwell but on the availability of beds for other people.”

Norovirus can live on hard surfaces for hours and spreads very quickly through environments where lots of people are mingling closely, such as schools and nurseries. The best way to protect yourself and others from catching this unpleasant sickness bug is to wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap, and to keep the environment you live and work in clean.

Alcohol or antibacterial hand sanitisers are a popular choice for people wanting to protect themselves from the bugs that circulate during winter, causing illnesses such as norovirus. However what most people don’t know is that hand sanitisers are not an effective protection against this common sickness bug.

The #ThinkNoro public health campaign advises:

N     No visits to hospitals, care homes and GP surgeries if you are suffering from symptoms of Norovirus - send someone else to visit loved ones until you are better

O     Once you’ve been symptom-free for at least 48 hours, you’re safe to return to work, school or visit hospitals and care home

R     Regularly wash your hands with soap and warm water, especially after using the toilet, and before eating or preparing food

O     Only hand-washing will prevent spread of Norovirus - alcohol hand gels DON’T kill the virus

 

For more information and advice on norovirus, visit: nhs.uk/conditions/norovirus/

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