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What is Norovirus?

Noroviruses are a group of viruses that are the most common cause of gastroenteritis (stomach bugs) in England and Wales. In the past, noroviruses have also been called ‘winter vomiting viruses’, ‘small round structured viruses’ or ‘Norwalk-like viruses’.

How do you know if someone has Norovirus?

The most common symptoms are nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. Symptoms often start with the sudden onset of nausea followed by projectile vomiting and watery diarrhoea. However, not all of those infected will experience all of the symptoms. Some people may also have a raised temperature, headaches and aching limbs.

How does Norovirus spread?

The virus is easily transmitted from one person to another. It can be transmitted by contact with an infected person, by consuming contaminated food or water or by contact with contaminated surfaces or objects.

How do ambulance staff stop Norovirus spreading?

Ambulance staff take special precautions with patients who have Norovirus in order to stop it spreading to other people.

Simple hygiene measures reduce the risk of spreading Norovirus:

  • Everyone should clean their hands before and after touching patients.
  • Hands can be cleaned with soap and water or moist hand wipes.
  • Alcohol gel is only partially effective against Norovirus
  • Staff will wear gloves and aprons when they care for a patient who has Norovirus.
  • The area where the patient was sitting and any equipment used on the patient will be cleaned using biocidal wipes.
  • If linen is used, eg sheets or blankets, these items will be changed between patients.

Does a patient with Norovirus have to be transported on their own?

Patients who have Norovirus must be transported on their own.

Further information is available from the Health Protection Agency website.