What is Noroviruses?
Norovirus is a virus that is the most
common cause of gastroenteritis (stomach
bugs). It affects approx 1 million people in
the UK each year. It is also known as the
winter vomiting virus.
How do I get Norovirus?
Norovirus is highly contagious. During
infection, particles from either vomit or
diarrhoea are distributed as an aerosol into
the environment, these particles then
settle on surfaces such as tables, chairs,
toilet surfaces e.g.the seat or the handle.
The virus can remain infective on these
surfaces for several days. It can be
spread by contact with any of these
surfaces, by eating contaminated food or
water, and by contact with an infected
Who is at risk of getting Norovirus?
Norovirus affects people of all ages.
How do I know if I have Norovirus?
Symptoms will begin around 12-48hrs after
becoming infected and may last for 12 to
60hrs. Some may experience the
symptoms longer. Symptoms include
nausea, vomitting and diarrhoea. Some
people may have a fever, headache or
aching limbs.
We will take a sample of either faeces or
vomit and send it the laboratory where it
will be tested for the virus. The test
usually takes one to two days.
Why does Norovirus often cause
Norovirus often causes outbreaks because
it is easily spread and able to survive in
the environment for several days.
Outbreaks are more likely to occur in
enclosed areas where people have a lot of
contact such as schools, hospitals and
nursing homes.
There is no specific treatment for norovirus
apart from letting it run its course. Those
affected should ensure they drink plenty of
water to replace the fluids they have lost
through diarrhoea and vomiting, to avoid
Most people will make a full recovery
within 12 to 48hrs however some people
such as the very young and the elderly are
at more risk of dehydration and may
require hospital treatment.
How can I prevent others from
becoming infected?
The best way of preventing the spread of
infection is to quarantine yourself until you
have been symptom-free for at least 48
hours. If you are a patient the appropriate
measures will be taken by ward staff and
the infection control team. This may
include being isolated in a side room or a
bay area with other infected patients, for at
least 48 hours.
Thorough hand washing with soap and
water is paramount. Surfaces such as
tables, toilets, lockers etc should be kept
hygienically clean.
Should I come to hospital if I have
diarrhoea or feel unwell?
You should not visit friends or relatives or
attend hospital clinics until you have been
free of diarrhoea for 48 hours. If your
symptoms haven’t improved after three
days of sickness or if you experience
sudden worsening of symptoms or pain, or
you suspect that someone you are caring
for is severly dehydrated contact NHS 24
for advice in the first instance.
In a medical emergency always dial 999.
Where can I find out more
If you have any concerns or questions
about infection control or the advice given
in this leaflet, please speak to the Senior
Charge Nurse on the ward.
You can get more information from the
healthcare staff looking after you or from
the local Infection Control Team.
Further information can also be obtained
Useful Websites:
Health Protection Scotland
NHS Fife Infection Control Team
Old College
Victoria Hospital
Fife KY2 5AH
01592 648833
Health Protection Agency
[email protected]
National Patient Safety
If you need any more information,
please ask the staff in your ward for
Hospital staff phone number:
If you require this information in another
community language or alternative format
for example BRAILLE, British Sign
Language, easy read or cd please contact
Angela Heyes on [email protected]
or telephone 01592 226783.
Produced by NHS Fife Infection Control Services
Information for hospital
patients and visitors
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