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The Winter Vomiting Virus Returns

hand-washing-infection-control2You can tell it’s winter when the Norovirus rears its head again. Latest figures from the Health Protection Agency and NHS Direct have shown that the numbers of people infected with the bug have shown a sharp increase over the last two weeks according to The Telegraph (22/11/10). It is a bug that appears more frequently during the winter months but can appear at any time in the year.

What is it?

Norovirus or “winter vomiting” as it is more commonly known is a viral infection that causes violent vomiting and diarrhoea. It is extremely contagious and is spread by direct contact through poor hygiene after using the toilet etc then spread through contact with door handles, computer keyboards etc. It can also be caught when someone vomits and small droplets enter the air.

Incubation of the virus is 24-48 hours and starts with projectile vomiting, diarrhoea and fever which can last for up to 48 hours. For most of us this is extremely unpleasant but self limiting and the main treatment is rest and fluids.

Higher Risk Groups

However, for the very young, the old and those who are immune compromised it can be a serious condition and may prove to be fatal as dehydration may become a big issue with these population groups.

Treatment

Due to the infectious nature of the bug, it is advised that people afflicted by it should rest, try to drink plenty of fluids and if they have any concerns they should contact NHS Direct on 0845 4647, rather than going to their GP or A&E unit where they may spread the disease to staff and other patients. Wherever possible do not prepare food while you are unwell and take an extra day or two to recover fully before going back to work, as you may still be contagious, even though symptoms have stopped.

Prevention is better…

As always, prevention is better than cure. So to reduce your risk of catching winter vomiting, please make sure you wash your hands thoroughly after using the toilet and keep things like door handles clean too.

Further reading:

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