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Diarrhoea and vomiting

Or Norovirus, sometimes known as the ‘winter vomiting bug’, is the most common stomach bug in the UK and Isle of Man, affecting people of all ages. 

It is highly contagious and is transmitted by contact with contaminated surfaces, an infected person, or consumption of contaminated food or water. 

The symptoms of norovirus are very distinctive – people often report a sudden onset of nausea followed by projectile vomiting and watery diarrhoea. 

Good hand hygiene is important to stop the spread of the virus.

Diarrhoea and/or vomiting that starts suddenly is generally caused by types of viruses.  The usual picture is that the person, especially children, vomits suddenly, develops abdominal pain and diarrhoea.  Some people, especially children, can also develop a fever.

These infections spread very rapidly and have in the past resulted in hospital and school closures due to the numbers of people affected.

If a person has developed diarrhoea and/or vomiting, they need to do the following:

Stay at home

These infections are highly contagious. To prevent spreading the infection the affected person needs to stay at home. 

Please DO NOT:

  • send your affected child to school
  • go to work if affected yourself
  • visit public places, hospitals, residential/nursing/care homes.

Once the virus gets into such settings it can cause severe disruption.

Follow the 48-hour rule

A person suffering from diarrhoea and/or vomiting continues to excrete the virus for up to 48 hours after the disappearance of all symptoms.  Hence, it is important that you do not resume normal activities such as going to work, to school or public places until 48 hours after all the symptoms have disappeared. 

Practise good hygiene

Good hygiene is always important but especially when there is someone who has diarrhoea and/or vomiting.

  • Wash your hands with soap and water thoroughly, especially after using the toilet, cleaning up any vomit and before preparing or serving food.  Pay close attention to the backs of your hands.
  • Clean all surfaces that are likely to be contaminated (for example, toilet bowls, hand-washing bowls, doors, handles, floors and walls).

During the illness

  • Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.
  • If you feel seriously unwell and are worried, telephone your doctor’s surgery for advice.
  • Please DO NOT visit your doctor’s surgery, A&E, Minor Injuries Unit (Ramsey) or MEDS unless advised to do so by a clinical professional.
  • In most cases the symptoms pass within 48 hours or so.  There is no specific treatment for these virus infections that cause diarrhoea and/or vomiting.

See Related Links for further detailed information and advice from the UK NHS Choices website.

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