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Norovirus is the most common tummy bug in Ireland. It's known as the 'vomiting bug' and spreads easily from person-to-person.

Norovirus can live on things for weeks. It spreads quickly in crowded places such as hospitals.

How you get norovirus

If you have norovirus and you vomit or you have diarrhoea, you can release billions of viruses.

There's often no way of knowing where or when you picked it up.

If Norovirus spreads to a hospital or nursing home, it can cause an outbreak. This can lead to bed closures and delays for patients.

Preventing the spread of norovirus

The best way to stop picking up and spreading norovirus is to:

  • clean your hands often
  • remember to clean your hands thoroughly after going to the toilet and before eating
  • use your own soap, flannel, sponge and razor
  • use a different toilet to others, if you can

If you are in hospital:

  • limit contact with patients and keep away from their bed space
  • avoid sharing food, newspapers or other personal items with patients
  • tell staff if facilities in a hospital or clinic are not clean

Do not visit a hospital or mix with others until symptoms have stopped for at least 2 days. You can still spread the virus, even if you're feeling much better.

Symptoms of norovirus

A norovirus infection does not affect everyone in the same way.

The main symptoms of a norovirus infection are:

  • feeling sick (nausea)
  • being sick (vomiting)
  • diarrhoea

You may also have:

  • tummy pain
  • a high temperature
  • a headache
  • aching arms and legs
  • loss of appetite
  • low energy

Call your doctor straight away if you have:

  • diarrhoea for many days
  • severe vomiting for a long time
  • blood in your stools

Causes of norovirus

Norovirus can be more serious among people who are already sick. Small children, older people and those with chronic diseases are also more at risk of dehydration.

Treatment of norovirus

Most people with norovirus do not need to see a doctor. You will usually feel better in a day or two.

Drink lots of fluids. If this makes you feel sick, take sips through the day.

page last reviewed: 22/11/2019
next review due: 22/11/2022