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Gastrointestinal & Zoonoses

Norovirus

About Norovirus

What is norovirus?

Norovirus is a virus that is a common cause of infectious gastroenteritis (diarrhoea and vomiting).

Norovirus is sometime known as ‘winter vomiting disease’ as it is most common during the winter months but infections can occur at any time of year.

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptoms are nausea (feeling sick), vomiting and diarrhoea. This may start with the sudden onset of nausea followed by projectile vomiting and watery diarrhoea. Some people may also experience fever and ‘flu-like symptoms’. Most people make a full recovery within a couple of days, however some people (usually the very young or elderly) may become dehydrated and require hospital treatment.

Information about what to do if you have norovirus is available on the NHS Inform website.

Who is at risk of getting norovirus?

Norovirus is very infectious and can infect people of all ages. Extra care should be taken in the young and elderly as dehydration is more common in these age groups.

How is it spread

Norovirus is highly infectious and easily spread from person to person. It can also be spread through contaminated food or water or by contact with contaminated surfaces or objects.

How to reduce it spreading

It is important to wash your hands, particularly after contact with someone who is ill, after using the toilet and before preparing food.  More information about preventing norovirus is available on the NHS Inform website.

Why does norovirus cause outbreaks?

Norovirus is very easily spread from one person to another. Outbreaks of norovirus where more than two people are infected can commonly occur where people are in close contact with one another for long periods of time, such as hospitals, care homes, schools, and on cruise ships.

What data does HPS have on norovirus?

Norovirus Guidelines

HPS has produced a number of guidelines for norovirus, these are available on the Guidelines page.