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Home Topics Infectious Diseases Infections A-Z Norovirus


norovirus 3D structure

Norovirus is the most common cause of infectious gastroenteritis (diarrhoea and vomiting) in England and Wales. The Illness is generally mild and people usually recover fully within 2-3 days. Infections can occur at any age because immunity does not last. 

(Image: B.V. Prasad)

Historically known as 'winter vomiting disease', the disease is more prominent during the winter months, but can occur at any time of year. It is also known as small round structured virus (SRSV) or Norwalk-like virus.

Outbreaks are common in semi-closed environments such as hospitals, nursing homes, schools and cruise ships.

Norovirus is highly infectious. Anyone who is feeling unwell with gastrointestinal symptoms, vomiting and or diarrhoea, should not visit hospitals or their GP because of risk of spreading the infection. However, if symptoms persist for more than 3 or 4 days, or you already have a serious illness, then phone your GP.

Good hygiene helps limit outbreaks. Wash your hands with soap and water after contact with someone who is ill, and after using the toilet, especially if you have symptoms.

At home, clean hard surfaces with detergent then disinfect with a bleach solution, especially around the toilet, and clean up vomit promptly, to reduce risk of infection. Wash soft furnishings and fabrics following the manufacturer's instructions.