Protect yourself and others from winter sickness bugs

Protect yourself and others from winter sickness bugs

12th December 2017

Patients, carers and members of the public are being reminded to be vigilant when it comes to protecting themselves and others from seasonal sickness bugs.

Norovirus (winter sickness bug) is a very common viral infection which causes forceful vomiting and diarrhoea, but it’s usually a mild illness. It can be caught at any time of the year but is more common in the winter months.

Norovirus can lead to dehydration which occurs when your body loses more fluid than you take in due to vomiting or diarrhoea. Dehydration can be dangerous in the elderly and very young.

People are advised to follow the tips below to help prevent the spread of nasty winter tummy bugs such as Norovirus:
• Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water, particularly after using the toilet and before preparing food.
• Don't share towels and flannels.
• If you or someone in your household has the virus, disinfect any surfaces or objects that could be contaminated with the virus. It's best to use a bleach-based household cleaner.
• Wash any clothing or bedding that could have become contaminated with the virus. Wash the items separately and on a hot wash to ensure that the virus is killed.
• Flush away any infected diarrhoea or vomit in the toilet and clean the surrounding toilet area.

Dr James Ogle, GP in Leicestershire said: “These tips will go some way to help prevent the spread of tummy bugs this winter. The illness is more common in places where people are in close proximity such as offices, hospitals and care homes.

“If you have symptoms of norovirus, avoid direct contact with other people and preparing food for others until at least 48 hours after your symptoms have disappeared. You may still be contagious, even though you no longer have sickness or diarrhoea. Avoid visiting hospitals and care homes if you have had the typical symptoms of norovirus in the past 48 hours. Some may request you avoid visiting completely if you've had symptoms within the past 72 hours. Norovirus is more serious and even more easily spread among people who are already ill or elderly.”

The first sign of norovirus is usually suddenly feeling sick followed by forceful vomiting and watery diarrhoea. Some people may also have:
• a raised temperature (over 38°C/100.4°F)
• headaches
• painful stomach cramps
• aching limbs

For more information on how you can stay healthy and help to prevent the spread of nasty bugs this winter visit NHS Choices at