1. ITV Report

Norovirus: What is it?

Photo: PA

Outbreaks of the norovirus are affecting the region again. And it's not just confined to closed wards on hospitals.

A wave of the bug is sweeping schools and businesses across the region, with 70 pupils at Dearham Primary School in Cumbria hit this week.

Norovirus is one of the most common stomach bugs in the UK. It is more common in winter although you can catch it any time of the year.

It spreads very easily in public places such as hospitals and schools, and is usually caught from contact with contaminated person, surface or food.

Symptoms appear 1-2 days after becoming infected and usually last for 2-3 days:

  • Suddenly feeling sick
  • Projectile vomiting
  • Watery diarrhoea

People may also experience fever, headaches, painful stomach cramps and aching limbs.

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The best thing to do is stay at home if you become infected. There is no cure for norovirus so you have to wait it out.

  • Drink plenty of water but avoid fizzy drinks and fruit juice as these can make diarrhoea worse.
  • Take paracetamol.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Try to eat plain foods such as rice, pasta and bread.
Credit: PA

Norovirus can't always be avoided but there are steps you can take to minimise the risk:

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water, particularly after using the toilet and before preparing food. Don't rely on alcohol hand gels, as they do not kill the virus.
  • Disinfect any surfaces or objects that could be contaminated. It's best to use a bleach-based household cleaner.
  • Wash any items of clothing or bedding that could have become contaminated separately on a hot wash to ensure the virus is killed.
  • Don't share towels and flannels.
  • Flush away any infected poo or vomit in the toilet and clean the surrounding area.
  • Avoid eating raw, unwashed produce and only eat oysters from a reliable source, as oysters can carry norovirus.

For more advice on combatting the norovirus, visit the NHS Norovirus page.