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Norovirus – what it is and how to react

Boston Spa academy was the fifth school in Leeds forced to close this week after hundreds of students fell victim to the infectious virus surge.

The outbreak, also known as the ‘winter vomiting bug’ has spread across the country, leading to hospital and school closures.

The Norovirus is a stomach bug that causes vomiting and diarrhoea. It can be very unpleasant, but usually goes away in about 2 days.

Christmas is not the time of year you want this virus descending upon you or family members so be weary of the symptoms and know how to react if it infects you or someone you know.

What you should do if your child has symptoms of the Norovirus

If your child is displaying symptoms of the Norovirus, such as diarrhoea or vomiting, you are advised to keep them at home for 48 hours following their last episode of illness.

Do:

Stay at home and get plenty of rest

Drink lots of fluids, such as water or squash – take small sips if you feel sick

Carry on breast or bottle feeding your baby – if they’re being sick, try giving small feeds more often than usual

Give babies on formula or solid foods small sips of water between feeds

Eat when you feel able to – you don’t need to eat or avoid any specific foods

Take paracetamol if you’re in discomfort – check the leaflet before giving it to your child

Don’t:

Do not have fruit juice or fizzy drinks – they can make diarrhoea worse

Do not make baby formula weaker – use it at its usual strength

Do not give children under 12 medicine to stop diarrhoea

Do not give aspirin to children under 16

When can I return to work?

Stay off school or work until the symptoms have stopped for two days. Also avoid visiting anyone in hospital during this time.

Hygiene practice

Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and warm water. Alcohol hand gels don’t kill Norovirus.

Use a bleach-based household cleaner or a combination of bleach and hot water to disinfect household surfaces and commonly used objects such as toilets, taps, telephones, door handles and kitchen surfaces.

If you are ill, avoid cooking and helping prepare meals for others. Wash any contaminated clothing or bedding using detergent and at 60°C, and if possible wear disposable gloves to handle contaminated items.

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