As the colder weather makes its presence felt, the so-called winter vomiting bug can hit with a vengeance in a seemingly random fashion.
There are many viruses that can cause gastroenteritis but norovirus is one of the most common. Norovirus is a highly infectious virus, known for causing outbreaks in winter and on cruise ships and other places where people live in close proximity, such as aged-care facilities. It is the most common cause of diarrhoea in adults and children.
Here are 8 things your doctor wants you to know about norovirus so you don’t fall victim to the winter vomiting bug, or if you do – how to treat it.
- Symptoms of vomiting, feeling sick (nausea) and diarrhoea usually begin 24–48 hours after ingestion of the virus, but can appear as early as 12 hours after exposure;
- People infected with norovirus can spread it from the day they start to feel ill until at least 2 days after diarrhoea or vomiting stops;
- There are many different strains of norovirus, which means long-lasting immunity is difficult to develop;
- There is no specific treatment for norovirus, but it is important to stay well hydrated. Because it’s a virus, antibiotics are not effective;
- As well as making sure you drink plenty of fluids, oral rehydration solutions can be useful, especially for children;
- Intravenous fluids may be needed if a person cannot drink enough fluids;
- People should stay away from child care, school or work for a minimum of 48 hours after diarrhoea or vomiting stops; and
- Good hand hygiene is the single most effective way of preventing infection. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, and always before preparing or eating food.