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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Norovirus

Huaketo Noro

Norovirus is a virus that causes gastroenteritis. It's very infectious, meaning it spreads very easily.

You can catch norovirus by consuming contaminated food or water or by touching contaminated surfaces. You can also catch it by breathing in droplets from a person who has vomited.

You usually get symptoms one to two days after being infected with the virus. The symptoms include diarrhoea and vomiting. Some people have a fever, painful stomach cramps, aches and pains and occasionally, blood in their faeces (poo). Symptoms can last for two to three days.

Diagnosing norovirus

Norovirus is diagnosed from a poo (faeces) sample.

Treating norovirus

There is no medicine for norovirus. The treatment is aimed at relieving symptoms. Rest and drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. See the self-care section on our gastroenteritis page for more details.

Getting help with norovirus

You should see your GP if you have bloody diarrhoea or a fever or if your symptoms have not gone away after seven days. You should also see your GP if you're very unwell or have a weakened immune system.

You should take your child to your GP if they aren't drinking, if they're passing less urine than usual, have a dry mouth or sunken eyes or if they seem drowsy.

Avoiding spreading norovirus

You're usually infectious for three days after your symptoms stop. To reduce the risk of spreading the virus, it's important to have good hand hygiene. This includes washing your hands with soap and water, particularly after using the toilet.

Use separate towels and flannels. Wash any infected clothing or bedding separately in hot water. Try to avoid preparing food if you have norovirus. If you do prepare food, make sure you wash and dry your hands well first. Follow this food safety advice.

Stay away from work, community gatherings and school or preschool until you or your child have been free of symptoms for 48 hours. This includes the last time you had diarrhoea.

You should wait for at least two weeks after the last episode of diarrhoea before you go swimming in a pool.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed May 2022.

Sources

See also:

Diarrhoea & vomiting in adults (gastroenteritis)

Diarrhoea & vomiting in children (gastroenteritis)

Eating and drinking when you're unwell

Page reference: 49718

Review key: HIGTE-81185