Norovirus - The Facts

Health bosses in Medway issue advice

The people in charge of health in Medway have told Heart - they want people to be prepared for the Norovirus - or Winter Vomiting Bug, as this is the time of year they see a big rise in the number of cases.

Norovirus is a highly infectious virus which causes diarrhoea and vomiting. It is more commonly known as the winter vomiting bug because most people catch it during the winter months, but it can occur at any time of year.

The symptoms of Norovirus include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and in some cases fever, headache, stomach cramps and aching limbs. Symptoms can last for 12 to 60 hours, but most people recover within two days.

It is estimated that Norovirus infects between 600,000 and one million people in the UK every year. Anecdotally, at Medway Maritime Hospital, we are starting to see an increase in the number of people arriving at the emergency department with symptoms of Norovirus, which can be potentially dangerous for other patients.

Linda Dempster, Head of Infection Control, explained: “Attending the emergency department for coughs, colds or sickness and diarrhoea can actually put other patients at risk. Norovirus is incredibly contagious and can spread easily through a busy emergency department, where there are many vulnerable people. It could pose a great threat to the health of people who are already very ill.

“In the majority of cases, no specific treatment is required, apart from letting the infection and its symptoms take its course. People should ensure they maintain their fluid intake, this is particularly important with the very young or the elderly. If symptoms persist, you become dehydrated or have an underlying medical condition; you should contact your GP or call NHS Direct on 0845 4647 for advice.”

Norovirus is one of a group of viruses that are the most common cause of gastroenteritis (stomach bugs) in England and Wales. It is common between the months of November to April and is called the ‘Winter Vomiting Virus’. However, it can occur at any time of the year.

  • The symptoms of infection usually begin around 12 to 48 hours after becoming infected and can last for 12 to 60 hours. They start with the sudden onset of nausea followed by projectile vomiting and/or watery diarrhoea.


  • There is no specific treatment for Norovirus apart from letting the infection and its symptoms take their course.


  • Everyone can play a part in restricting the spread of Norovirus by:


  • Washing hands before:


  • Preparing food, eating food.


  • Washing your hands after:
  • Handling raw meat, using the toilet, changing a nappy, touching rubbish bins, using cleaning cloths, playing with pets, emptying litter trays, working in the garden, cleaning up blood or vomit.


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