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December saw an outbreak of Norovirus, or winter vomiting bug almost approaching epidemic proportions, and unfortunately it continues on its rounds.
Norovirus is a highly contagious stomach bug, it spreads easily because exposure to as few as 10 virus particles can inubate infection, and also because the virus can survive on open surfaces for a long time.
As with any contagious virus, the key to avoiding it is to practice good hygiene:-
- Wash hands before handling food, before eating, after touching animals and after going to the toilet
- Take care if you are treating sick people around you, wash hands after being with them
- Use an antibacterial handwash
- Use a tissue to contain coughs and sneezes, then dispose of the tissue and wash your hands again
- Isolate sufferers until 48 hours after recovery
- If you catch the virus, remember that you remain contagious for a further 48 hours after you recover, don't prepare food on that time, and be cautious interacting with others
Hospitals and surgeries are keen to prevent contagion amongst the most vulnerable so try to avoid visiting them, telephone for advice if required.
Sadly there's no treatment for Norovirus and you have to let the bug run its course. Symptoms vary but can include severe vomiting and diarrhoea. The biggest danger comes from dehydration so try to keep hydrated even in the event of vomiting. Young children (and the elderly) are particularly vulnerable to dehydration and may require hospital treatment, but check with your hospital first as many have shut their doors to Norovirus admissions on health grounds.
Hopefully we all practice the hygiene measures outlined here routinely, this won't prevent catching Norovirus but it will help to contain its spread.