Norovirus infections 

Introduction 

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 also 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 to 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 consuming 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 usually you will not need to see a doctor as the symptoms leave after a couple of days. See Treatment for information on 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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jspring said on 26 February 2011

I've had this hideous bug for over 2 days now and still feel weak as a kitten. It's comforting to read all the other comments - at least it makes one feel less alone. The worst of the diarrhoea seems to be subsiding gradually but still feel sick as a parrot, achy and completely feeble. As an NHS employee I won't be in work on Monday as I dread giving this to anyone else. Right now sleep seems to be the most comfortable option, if you can find it.

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toxshock74 said on 22 December 2010

My partner started vomiting on Saturday 18th Dec and myself and our 15th month old started on the Tuesday. Strangely all of us started in the small hours. The vomiting stopped within half a day, but it was accompanied by flu like symptoms which were very painful. Unable to eat and drinking just water and squash was difficult. It's now Wednesday evening, the pain has stopped now also, just feeling washed out. The symptoms in our daughter were very mild, she was only sick once and kept her energy, thankfully.

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LottieP1980 said on 20 December 2010

I have this at the moment and this website is very useful so that I don't go to the doctors. I awoke very early on Friday morning and was soon sick and had diarrhoea. I was sick around 8 times along with diarrhoea for around 9 hours. I ached all over and now on Monday I still feel icky, not eating much at all and feeling weak. I am also now feeling very bloated and uncomfortable - which I was worried about until I saw this web page and realised it is just one of the symptoms. I hope I don't pass it onto my 15 month!

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Tallstoo said on 10 December 2010

This video and page of info was really helpful. Thank you.
My mum-in-law returned from hospital with Norovirus (late diagnosis after leaving) on Tuesday, by Wednesday night I had caught it. Felt a litle rough going to bed, woke in middle of the night, up 3 times to go to loo, couldn't sleep, stomach gurgling, nausea, bloated belly. By morning I was dizzy, sick and ached all over, found it difficult to walk, thumping headache, could not face any food.
Drank only very hot water (boiled) for a full 30 hours + paracetamol x 2 every 4 hours.
That helped a lot.
Now on day 2-3 feel sick, tried a little food but can't stomach much. Stools almost normal.
I would have gone back to work too early and infected others if I hadn't read this.
Greatly reassured by this website info.

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curleytop said on 08 May 2010

I had severe vomiting, spent the rest of the day in bed, went back to work the next day feeling weak but OK and the following morning had diarrhoea so stayed off work. Felt better but not 100% but went back to work the last 2 days. Today I have quite bad stomach pains which I am hoping will go away as the day goes on. I'm not feeling sick and am eating a little, but am slightly concerned that it's going on for too long. It's the weekend so no doctors handy. I'll keep my fingers crossed it gets better. Is there anything I can get from the chemist in the meantime?

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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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