Norovirus: what you need to know

By Dr. Ash Patel and Emily Grenfell

What is Norovirus?

Also known as the Winter Vomiting Bug, it's the most contagious stomach bug in the UK. Between 600,000 and 1 million people catch this virus every single year.

You can have norovirus for 12 to 48 hours before you start to show symptoms, and you may be able to spread the infection during this time. So if you've been in a place where you're more likely to pick it up, it's important to be careful about washing your hands and not sharing food or cutlery, to avoid it spreading.


How to recognise the symptoms:

The symptoms are vomiting and diarrhoea.


What is the cure?

There is no real cure for norovirus, you just have to let it run its course. It's unpleasant, but it's not normally dangerous and most people make a full recovery within a couple of days without having to see a doctor.


How do I treat norovirus?

·      Drink plenty of water, or drink specific rehydration drinks available at all pharmacies

·      If you have a fever or any aches and pains you can treat these with paracetamol

·      Eat easily digestible foods like soups, but avoid foods that are high in acidity, so stick to flavours like French Onion or Chicken Noodle

·      Stay at home and avoid contact with as many people as possible, this will prevent other people catching the virus from you. Never visit anyone in hospital if you suspect you have Norovirus.

If you are concerned about the severity of your symptoms, you can book a babylon consultation and speak to a GP from the comfort of your bed.

How do I prevent it from spreading?

·      Wash your hands frequently with soap and water

·      Avoid sharing towels and flannels

·      Disinfect surfaces or items that an infected person has touched

Because the virus can survive for many days on surfaces touched by an infected person, outbreaks in busy places, like hospitals and schools, are common. If you have had norovirus you continue to be infectious for up to 48 hours after you start to feel better, so don't rush back to work or school, and take it easy.