New tips have been released by Public Health England that tell you how to avoid a winter sickness bug that has been doing the rounds.
'Highly contagious' Norovirus, the most common stomach bug in the UK, typically lasts between 24 and 48 hours with symptoms including vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhoea.
It's more common in winter but people can catch it at any time of year, and it's easily passed on.
Public Health England says the best way to try to avoid Norovirus is to ensure good hygiene, which includes washing hands with soap and warm water before eating or after using the toilet.
Anyone who gets the bug is advised to stay at home and avoid visiting GP surgeries, hospitals and care homes while they are displaying symptoms.
Nick Phin, national infection service deputy director for Public Health England, said: “Norovirus can be unpleasant and is easily passed on to those around you.
"Most people get over it within a day or two but in the very young, elderly or those who have weakened immune systems it can last longer and it is easy to get dehydrated, so it is important to drink plenty of fluids to prevent this."
According to the NHS symptoms of norovirus include :
- Suddenly feeling sick
- Projectile vomiting
- Watery diarrhoea
You may also have a slight fever, headaches, painful stomach cramps and aching limbs. Symptoms usually appear one or two days after you have become infected and can come on suddenly.
If you experience sudden diarrhoea and vomiting, the best thing to do is to stay at home until you're feeling better. There's no cure for norovirus, so you have to let it run its course.
To help ease the symptoms, you should :
- Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. You need to drink more than usual to replace the fluids you are losing.
- Take paracetamol for fever, aches or pains.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Eat plain foods, such as soup, rice, pasta and bread - but only if you feel able to.
- Use special rehydration drinks, particularly if you have signs of dehydration (watch out for a dry mouth or dark urine)
Babies and young children are particularly at risk of dehydration so it's important to make sure they get those extra fluids.
How to avoid it
It’s important to thoroughly wash hands with soap and warm water, stay away from places like hospitals and care homes and avoiding preparing food or having close contact with others when ill.
Phin added: "Norovirus is transmitted by touching hands or surfaces that the virus has landed on. All surfaces should be thoroughly disinfected after any episode of illness.
"Those who have diarrhoea and vomiting should not prepare food until 48 hours after symptoms have disappeared.
"We advise that they should avoid visiting GP surgeries, care homes and hospitals if they have symptoms.
Prevent catching norovirus by:
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, particularly after using the loo and before preparing food
- Disinfect surfaces which could be contaminated
- Wash clothes and bedding that could be contaminated
- Don't share towels or flannels with someone who has the infection
- Flush the toilet immediately and clean the surrounding area
- Avoid eating raw, unwashed produce
- Only eat oysters from a reliable source as they can carry the infection