Norovirus infections are at moderate to high levels
We are continuing to see moderate to high levels of norovirus infections “winter vomiting bug”. This is to be expected at this time of the year as norovirus infections are more common in winter.
Symptoms of norovirus include; nausea (often sudden onset), vomiting (often projectile) and watery diarrhoea. The illness usually lasts 1 or 2 days.
You can become infected by:
- coming in contact with an infected person,
- coming in contact with a contaminated surface e.g. door handle, light switch, bathroom tap or toilet flush handle
- consuming contaminated food or water
Norovirus is very contagious and spreads easily from person to person. Norovirus patients are infectious from the start of symptoms to 2 or 3 days after they recover.
Norovirus in the home
If someone in your household has norovirus infection, good hygiene is vital to prevent spreading it to others in the house.
- Frequent hand washing with hot water and soap is essential, especially;
- before and after caring for the sick person
- after cleaning any vomit or diarrhoea
- after handling any contaminated objects, clothes, towels, bed-linen or surfaces
- before preparing any food
- after using the toilet
Additional information on norovirus infection is available here https://www.hpsc.ie/a-z/gastroenteric/norovirus/factsheets/frequentlyaskedquestions/#d.en.2107
Information on cleaning up vomit is available here https://www.hpsc.ie/a-z/gastroenteric/norovirus/factsheets/howtocleanupanddecontaminateaftersomeonehasvomited/
Outbreaks of norovirus at work/healthcare facilities/school/childcare facilities
Outbreaks of norovirus are common because the illness spreads easily from person to person and norovirus can survive in the environment and on surfaces and objects for several days.
Gastroenteritis due to norovirus can be very disruptive to organisations and businesses, including healthcare facilities, schools and child care facilities. Healthcare facilities including hospitals and nursing homes are particularly at risk of norovirus outbreaks.
Certain groups have a high potential to spread norovirus. In particular:
- healthcare staff can spread norovirus to vulnerable patients in their care
- food handlers who handle ready-to-eat food
- Children aged < 5 years who attend child care facilities
- People who might find it difficult to maintain good hygiene
Employers should advise all sick staff with symptoms of vomiting and/or diarrhoea to stay off work for the duration of their illness and for 48 hours after their symptoms stop, irrespective of their job. Children who have symptoms of vomiting and/or diarrhoea should also stay off school/childcare facility for the duration of their illness and for 48 hours after their symptoms stop. Where possible, people should not visit hospitals, nursing homes and other long-term care facilities while ill with vomiting and/or diarrhoea and for 48 hours after their symptoms stop.
Information for employers regarding norovirus is available here https://www.hpsc.ie/a-z/gastroenteric/norovirus/factsheets/informationforemployers/