Norovirus - what you need to know

Posted: April 17, 2013

Important information for patients and visitors

It is common for Norovirus to be present in the community in places like schools, nurseries and care homes.  As such we always have to be on our guard to prevent the spread of the infection to protect vulnerable patients and each other.

Norovirus causes viral gastroenteritis, which is characterised by the sudden onset of vomiting and/or diarrhoea. It is self limiting and most people recover within one or two days.

If someone develops symptoms of Norovirus, please help avoid further spread by taking the following precautions:

  • Don't visit friends or relatives in hospital or care homes as there is a real risk that you could spread the infection to others - it is usually through this route that the infection is spread and once it is in a hospital it means bays have to be closed reducing the number of beds available to other sick patients.
  • Drink plenty to replace lost fluids. If symptoms persist (more than 48 hours), phone the GP or NHS Direct for advice don't come to A&E.
  • Stay away from the work (or school) until free of symptoms for at least 48 hours. 
  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water regularly, particularly after toilet visits and before eating. Standard alcohol hand gel is not effective against Norovirus and the Trust has installed anti-viral hand gel throughout the Great Western Hospital to reduce the risk of viral spread. This anti-viral gel will also be rolled out across the Trust's community hospitals.
  • Stay at home, ensure personal hygiene is good, particularly hand-washing, and avoid contact with others where possible.
  • Not handle or prepare food for other people until they have been symptom free for a minimum period of 48 hours.

People caring or living in the same house with someone with Norovirus should:

  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water regularly, particularly after toilet visits and before eating.
  • Use separate toilets and towels if possible.
  • Wash environmental surfaces as much as possible - especially handles and wash basins.
  • Use personal protective clothing when caring for someone with Norovirus. It is also important to wash hands thoroughly with soap and water, even after using gloves.

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