Norovirus – the winter vomiting bug


Combat Norovirus Campaign

The NHS in Gloucestershire has launched a major campaign to help stop the spread of Norovirus, protect vulnerable patients and support NHS services this Winter.

The high visibility ‘Combat Norovirus’ campaign is being profiled at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, Cheltenham General Hospital, community hospitals and GP surgeries this Autumn.

Banners, posters, information cards and leaflets carrying the key campaign messages are available at healthcare facilities county-wide and materials are available to download from this site.

Leaflets for relatives, explaining how to protect vulnerable patients will be handed out by healthcare staff and there will be plenty of activity on social media channels.


Key campaign messages

  • Do not visit healthcare facilities, like hospitals, if you have had diarrhoea and/or vomiting until three days after symptoms have stopped (even if these were mild symptoms)
  • Do not visit friends or relatives in hospital if you have recently (within the last 3 days) been in contact with anyone who has diarrhoea and/or vomiting
  • Always wash your hands frequently with warm water and soap. You should always do this after using the toilet and before preparing food. This is good practice whether or not you have symptoms
  • Do not handle or prepare food for other people until you have been free of symptoms for a minimum of three days
  • If you, or someone you care for, needs medical advice call NHS 111 or call your GP surgery in the first instance.

How does norovirus spread?

It is very contagious, is spread mainly from person-to-person and occasionally through food preparation and is more likely to spread where people are in close proximity.

Public places like hospitals and care homes are susceptible to outbreaks and may result in ward closures and restricted visiting.




Norovirus Questions and Answers

What is Norovirus?

Norovirus is the most common cause of gastroenteritis (stomach bugs) in England and Wales and can affect people of any age.

Whilst this condition, sometimes called ‘Winter vomiting disease’ or ‘Winter vomiting bug,’ is an unpleasant experience, the infection tends to be short lived and most people will just need to drink plenty of fluids and take plenty of rest.

However, people who are already ill, such as patients in hospital, can sometimes get quite poorly as the illness can interfere with the effectiveness of the medicines they are taking and also make them weak and dehydrated.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of a norovirus infection begin around 12 to 72 hours after the patient picks up the infection. Symptoms usually last for 12 to 60 hours, but sometimes longer.

They start with feeling sick (nausea) often followed by projectile vomiting. The vomiting is frequently projectile. Many patients will also get watery diarrhoea. Some people will have a raised temperature, headaches and aching limbs (flu like symptoms).

Most people make a full recovery within 1-2 days, but some people (usually the very young or elderly) may become very dehydrated and require medical treatment.

How does Norovirus spread?

It is very contagious, is spread mainly from person to person and occasionally through food preparation, and is more likely to spread where people are in close proximity. Public places, like hospitals are susceptible to outbreaks and this may result in ward closures and restricted visiting


Norovirus: Young Families

This short film shows what happens when a mother, worried about her young child who has been sick, takes him to her local hospital to seek treatment as her first point of contact for help. He is relatively lively and doesn’t mind who shares his infection.

Film courtesy of NHS B&NES/RUH


Norovirus: Hospital Visitors

This film looks at the impact of norovirus in hospitals and healthcare settings through the eyes of a hospital patient and his visitor. When John, despite suffering D&V feels he must visit a friend in hospital, it’s not just a book he takes as a gift to the ward.

Film courtesy of NHS B&NES/RUH


Norovirus: Overall information

This film gives over information about Norovirus.

Film courtesy of NHS Choices