Safety Update – Winter Vomiting Bug
Or more correctly Norovirus; as the name suggests, a virus. It causes gastroenteritis (stomach upset) which is often dubbed winter vomiting disease as it is far more common in the winter months (although it does cause infection all year round). It is very infectious with only a few virus particles required to cause infection.
The most common symptoms are nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. The onset can be very sudden and the vomiting quite dramatic (projectile vomiting). There is no specific treatment for the infection, other than to stay at home, drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration and let it take its course. Most people make a full recovery within 1 to 2 days.
Because the virus is so infectious, outbreaks are common, with person-to-person transmission rates being high. Immunity to norovirus is short-lived and there are different types of norovirus, so don’t assume that if you have been infected recently that you are now protected.
The virus will be present in very high numbers in the vomit and faecal material from an infected person, and it is capable of living for several days in the environment. If you think you are ill with norovirus, it is recommended that you do not visit your GP (as this increases the risk of spreading the disease). If, however, you are ill for longer than a few days or you are already suffering from a serious illness – contact your surgery by phone to ask for advice.
To stop the spread of norovirus – practice proper hand hygiene (wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water), do not prepare food for others while infected (if possible avoid the kitchen altogether while you are ill), do not share towels or flannels, clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces (any hard surfaces contaminated with vomit or diarrhoea should be immediately cleaned and disinfected with household bleach), wash contaminated laundry thoroughly (handle the soiled items carefully, preferably wearing rubber gloves.
So there is is a concise guide to winter vomiting disease – stay healthy!