1. ITV Report

Norovirus outbreak

63 hospitals wards closed across the UK Photo: Health Protection Agency

Noroviruses are Britain’s most common cause of infectious gastroenteritis, also known as "winter vomiting disease" or "stomach flu". Although not usually dangerous – the vast majority of sufferers recover after one or two days – the very young and older people are at risk of complications, such as dehydration, and may need hospital treatment.

Between 600,000 and 1 million people suffer from norovirus every year. That makes the infection – caused by one of a number of closely related viruses – the most common stomach infection in the UK.

  • Symptoms begin 24-48 hours after infection
  • First sign usually nausea, vomiting and watery diarrhoea
  • Some experience fever, aching limbs and headaches
  • Symptoms usually disappear after a day or two
  • People catch norovirus through contact with an infected person, touching surfaces such as door handles and tables or consuming contaminated foods and liquids. That's why outbreaks are particularly common within contaminated environments such as hospitals, schools and offices.How can I protect myself against norovirus?
  • Good hygiene
  • Wash hands thoroughly, particularly after going to the toilet
  • Clean hands before eating and preparing foods
  • Avoid raw, unwashed foods during a norovirus outbreak