Norovirus

Introduction 

Video: norovirus

Find out what norovirus is, how to reduce your risk of getting it and what to do if you have it.

The norovirus group of viruses are the most common cause of gastroenteritis (upset stomach) in the UK. They are sometimes known as 'small round structured viruses' (SRSV) or 'Norwalk-like viruses'.

Norovirus infections are sometimes called 'winter vomiting disease', because people often get them during the winter months. However, they can occur at any time of the year.

Symptoms of a norovirus infection include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and, in some cases, a fever, headache, stomach cramps and aching limbs. Symptoms can last for 12-60 hours, but most people recover within two days (see Symptoms for more information).

How noroviruses are spread

It is estimated that noroviruses infect between 600,000 and one million people in the UK every year. Norovirus infections occur in people of all ages and outbreaks of the illness are common, particularly within contained environments such as hospitals, nursing homes and schools. This is because the norovirus spreads very easily from person to person and can survive for several days in a contaminated area.

Noroviruses can be spread through contact with an infected person, through contact with surfaces or objects that are contaminated with the virus, or by eating contaminated food or water.

After having a norovirus infection it is possible to become infected again, because immunity to the virus only lasts for a short period of time.

Outlook

There is no specific treatment for a norovirus infection and you will usually not need to visit a doctor. See Treatment for how to care for yourself or your child at home.


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Last reviewed: 19/03/2010

Next review due: 19/03/2012

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ColemanP said on 02 April 2010

I have just had what I think was norovirus, vomitting, bloated stomach, loss of appetite. This is the second time I have had it in 6 weeks and I have been hospitalised on both occasions. I also have diabetes and think that makes me more susceptible. The 1st time at the hospital I was just told it was a 24hr bug. The 2nd time they just said gastric problems.. The NHS video was very informative, it's just a pity I wasn't told more about what it actually was and how to attempt to prevent it recurring.

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benn121 said on 30 March 2010

This page was really useful for me, I had the virus last week (8 days ago) and I returned back to work feeling better. However I am still feeling nausea and a slight headache. Is the virus still in my system? I don’t have any other symptoms at all

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xoshellyox said on 21 March 2010

my antie had Norovirus for a couple of days then she died would this of coursed her to die? as my 2 year old has got it.

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Bubblegumgirlxx said on 20 February 2010

If anyone could help me on this, it would be great. I was round my aunts house today and she has got the norovirus and so has my cousin. I didnt touch them and didnt go in their toilet and i washed my hands as soon as i left. I have a major phobia of vomiting and was just wondering if anyone knew whether i will be likely to catch the virus or not??

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Caspar said on 08 February 2010

Hi HeyHey,
thanks for your feedback, we have now amended the transcript.

Kind regards

Caspar @ NHS Choices

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HeyHey said on 18 January 2010

The speaker at 01.15 mentions oral rehydration salts but the subtitles state oral dehydration salts. Just a bit of editing of the subtitles needed there in case of confusion.

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redkite said on 28 December 2009

The video was first class. I have a chronic lung condition and I'm always concerned about any illness. It was heartening to know that my approach to dealing with the illness was exactly right. As it was Christmas night - it was not a good time to call a doctor which my husband wanted to do! I am recovering well and building back up slowly. So well done NHS! Thank you!

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Mike Stanley said on 21 July 2009

The video explaining the symptoms and solutions for the Norovirus is excellent. The original diagnosis, hence a name was however given us by a public health official over the phone which then led me to look, via Google, at this NHS choices web page. The problem is of course getting the name in the first place in order to get a clearer idea of what might be the cause of our illness.

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Home hygiene

Good hygiene in the home is increasingly being recognised as critical to fight the spread of infectious diseases.