Norovirus cases on the increase in Ireland
Norovirus, one of the most common causes of gastroenteritis, is currently on the increase in Ireland. High levels of norovirus activity can increase demand on healthcare facilities and staff.
In November, HPSC data showed norovirus notifications in Ireland tripled to more than 30 per week. There has also been a significant upsurge in norovirus outbreaks in healthcare facilities.
The currently circulating strain of norovirus is GII.4 (Sydney) or very similar variants. This has been the dominant strain since 2012.
Key messages for health and care professionals:
- Have a high index of suspicion for norovirus and assume that all vomitus is infectious
- When two or more people in the same building or group develop vomiting within a day or so of one another, it is likely that this may be norovirus
- It is imperative to clean and decontaminate soiled areas immediately.
- Strict attention to routine hygiene, cleaning and disinfection during outbreaks is key.
- Cohorting of ill patients is necessary to prevent further transmission.
- Exclude ill staff
- Remember to involve Infection Prevention and Control colleagues at the earliest stage.
Norovirus guidance for healthcare settings are available on the HPSC website:
- Interim Guidance Note on Managing Norovirus in Residential Care Settings (November 2023)
- Guidelines on the Management of Outbreaks of Norovirus Infection in Healthcare Settings
Key messages for the public:
It's not always possible to avoid getting norovirus, but following the advice below can help stop the virus spreading.
- Stay off work or school until at least 48 hours after the symptoms have passed. You should also avoid visiting anyone in hospital during this time.
- Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water. Do not rely on alcohol hand gels, as they do not kill the virus.
- Disinfect any surfaces or objects that could be contaminated. It's best to use a bleach-based household cleaner.
- Wash any items of clothing or bedding that could have become contaminated separately on a hot wash to ensure the virus is killed.
- Don't share towels and flannels.
- Flush away any infected poo or vomit in the toilet and clean the surrounding area.
- Avoid eating raw, unwashed produce.
For more information on symptoms, treatment and prevention of norovirus visit https://www2.hse.ie/conditions/norovirus/