Norovirus: What is the winter vomiting bug, what causes it and how do you treat it?
Ireland is coming out the other end of the Covid-19 pandemic, however there is another virus starting to take hold.
Norovirus, also known as the winter vomiting bug, is the most common type of stomach bug in Ireland
The virus is most common around Christmas time due to families and friends congregating in large numbers. However, it can be caught at any time during the year, with surges already being reported in Dublin.
While there is no cure for the virus, those who contract it can take measures to help limit the effects.
Here is everything you need to know about Norovirus as winter approaches
Symptoms of this winter bug can range from mild to severe. You may get a sudden feeling of nausea, projectile vomiting or watery diarrhoea.
Some people may experience a slight fever, headaches, stomach cramps and aching limbs. All of these symptoms have been noted in cases of Covid-19.
Because it's a virus and not an infection, antibiotics have no effect on Norovirus. The best thing someone with Norovirus can do is to stay at home until symptoms have subsided.
If suffering from diarrhoea and vomiting, it's very important to drink a lot of water to keep your body hydrated. Stay away from fizzy and fruit drinks as this could make the diarrhoea worse.
If you can keep down fluids, flat 7UP is recommended to stay hydrated and keep your energy levels up.
If suffering from aches and pains, paracetamol can be taken to ease the pain.
How does norovirus spread?
Similar to Covid-19, norovirus spreads easily in schools, nursing homes and hospitals. You can contract Norovirus from close contact with someone who's carrying the virus, touching contaminated surfaces or objects as the virus can survive on a surface for days or eating contaminated food that was handled by someone with the virus.
When are you at your most infectious?
You are at your most infectious once symptoms appear and for the 48 hours after that. Because the virus is ever-changing, it is possible to contract the virus more than once.
Preventing Norovirus spread
While it's impossible to guarantee that you won't get Norovirus, there are steps you can take to limit your chances of catching the virus.
The seven HSE tips for avoiding Norovirus are:
- Stay off work or school until at least 48 hours after the symptoms have passed. You should also avoid visiting anyone in hospital during this time.
- Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water. Do not rely on alcohol hand gels, as they do not kill the virus.
- Disinfect any surfaces or objects that could be contaminated. It's best to use a bleach-based household cleaner.
- Wash any items of clothing or bedding that could have become contaminated separately on a hot wash to ensure the virus is killed.
- Don't share towels and flannels.
- Clean the toilet
- Avoid eating raw, unwashed produce.
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