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HealthInfo Canterbury


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.

How is norovirus treated?

There's no medicine for norovirus. The treatment is aimed at relieving symptoms. Rest and drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. You can take paracetamol or ibuprofen (ask your GP or pharmacist for advice) to help with fever and aches and pains.

When and where should I seek help?

You should see your GP if you have bloody diarrhoea or a fever, or if your symptoms haven't 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, or if they seem drowsy.

How can I avoid 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 June 2018.


See also:

About diarrhoea & vomiting (gastroenteritis)

Diarrhoea & vomiting in children

Page reference: 49718

Review key: HIGTE-81185