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Norovirus - The Winter Vomiting Bug

Every year the norovirus, which is also better known as the winter vomiting bug - spreads through the UK like wildfire

What is a norovirus?
Noroviruses are a group of viruses that cause gastroenteritis or vomiting. They're also known as the winter vomiting bug, because they tend to happen mainly during the winter months.

How do you catch a norovirus?
There are three main ways the virus can be spread - through contact with an infected person, touching a surface or item which has the virus on it, or by coming into contact with infected food or drink.

What are the symptoms?
The first sign that you may be infected will come with a rush of nausea, followed by severe or projectile vomiting, and diarrhoea. Other symptons may also include: headaches, aching limbs, raised temperature and stomach cramps.

How long will it last for?
The worst is usually over after a day or two, although if it's your child who's ill, you should keep your child off school for another 48 hours after that.

Is there any medicine we can take?
As this is a virus, there's no specific medical treatment, but you should make sure that you drink plenty of water - this is particularly important for children who can become dehydrated more quickly than adults. Drugs available from chemists to combat diarrhoea aren't suitable for children to take, but you may be able to give children rehydration drinks containing minerals and sugar to replace what's been lost - ask your pharmacist or doctor for their advice.

Are there any steps I can take to make sure we don't get it?
Encourage your children to wash their hands throughly after going to the toilet and before they eat. Make sure you wash any raw food such as salad or fruit before eating. If a grown-up in the family gets the virus, they shouldn't prepare food for anyone else in the family for the duration of the sickness and for three days after all symptoms have disappeared.

January 2008

Remember : This is just information and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
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