Take easy steps to avoid the winter vomiting bug

07:01 05 February 2014

People in Essex are being urged to follow a few simple steps to help them avoid the winter vomiting bug (norovirus) and give themselves the best chance of staying well.

Norovirus causes vomiting and diarrhoea, is highly contagious and is the most common stomach bug in the UK. It can affect people of all ages so health experts from NHS England in Essex are asking people to take care and help avoid the spread of the bug.

Making sure you wash your hands thoroughly and frequently, especially after using the toilet, will help to decrease your chances of becoming unwell.

Christine Macleod, medical drector from NHS England, Essex, said: “Norovirus, although not very pleasant, is not usually dangerous and most people make a full recovery within a couple of days without having to see their GP. If a child, or baby, gets norovirus it is very important to make sure they drink plenty of fluids in order to prevent them from becoming dehydrated.”

The simple ways in which you can help avoid the spread of norovirus are:

• Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water, particularly after using the toilet and before preparing food. If you have children, encourage them to wash their hands too.

• Don’t share towels and flannels.

• Disinfect any surfaces or objects that could be contaminated with the virus, including the toilet flush, light switches and door handles. It’s best to use a bleach-based household cleaner.

• Wash any items of clothing or bedding that could have become contaminated with the virus. Wash the items separately and on a hot wash to ensure that the virus is killed.

• Avoid eating raw, unwashed food and only eat oysters from a reliable source. Oysters have been known to carry the norovirus.

• Stay away from public places, such as your GP surgery, hospitals, school and work for at least 48 hours after the symptoms have stopped, as you might still be contagious to others.

Each year, it’s estimated that between 600,000 and one million people in the UK catch norovirus. The illness is sometimes called the ‘winter vomiting bug’ because it’s more common in winter.

However, you can catch the virus any time during the year.

NHS England has recently launched ‘The earlier, the better’ public awareness campaign, which is designed to encourage people to nip health problems in the bud and avoid unnecessary stays in hospital.

The campaign is particularly targeting people aged over 60 years old and the friends and family of older people.

If people have a minor illness, by visiting their local pharmacy early they will give themselves the best chance of making a speedy recovery.

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