With wintery weather predicted this weekend, protect yourself and loved ones from the winter vomiting bug Credit: Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group

Winter vomiting bug

Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group is advising anyone who is suffering with vomiting and/or diarrhoea not to visit GP surgeries and to avoid visiting loved ones in hospitals or care homes, to help prevent the spread of the winter vomiting bug.

The winter vomiting bug, known as Norovirus, can strike at any time of the year. However, is much more prevalent in colder months when people tend to stay inside more. It is the most frequent cause of viral gastroenteritis and affects approximately one million people in the UK every year.

The symptoms of Norovirus can come on suddenly, and causes a very unpleasant, but generally short-lived illness. Most people will recover without needing to visit their GP or hospital. The first sign of norovirus is usually a sudden sick feeling followed by forceful vomiting and watery diarrhoea. But the illness usually completely resolves in one or two days and there are no long term effects.

Infection Prevention and Control Nurse at Bedfordshire CCG, Alison Franklin, said:

“As well as diarrhoea and/or vomiting, some people may have stomach cramps, a raised temperature, headaches and aching limbs. If you experience symptoms of Norovirus, it is important to drink plenty of water to remain hydrated, particularly for young children or the elderly.

“There is no treatment for Norovirus that your GP or A&E department can provide. The best advice is to stay at home, drink plenty of fluids when able to do so and if you feel like eating, eat foods that are easy to digest.”

“Norovirus is highly contagious so it is important to stay at home until you have been free of symptoms for at least 48 hours, to avoid spreading the virus further. It is very important that if you are suffering from Norovirus, you do not visit loved ones in hospital or care homes. Norovirus can spread extremely quickly in a hospital, resulting in ward closures and staff sickness.”

Good hand hygiene is crucial

The best way to protect yourself and others from Norovirus is to follow good hand hygiene by washing your hands frequently with soap and water. Especially after going to the toilet and before eating.

If your symptoms last longer than a few days or you already have a serious illness, call NHS111 or contact your GP for medical advice.

More information on Norovirus can be found on the NHS choices website