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Preventing Stomach Flu – Tips To Avoid Norovirus

It seems that each winter these days, there are more and more stories in the news about outbreaks of the public’s winter health enemy No.1 – norovirus. Also commonly known as stomach flu, or the cruise ship virus, norovirus can really put your body through the ringer at any time of year. Although another common alias for the virus, winter vomiting bug, highlights the fact that this extremely infectious stomach bug is more common in winter.

Norovirus Symptoms

Fortunately, although it is an extremely unpleasant stomach bug, norovirus is usually over within a couple of days. Symptoms commonly surface one or two days after you become infected. You are likely to have norovirus if you experience –

  • Sudden feelings of sickness
  • Projectile vomiting
  • Watery diarrhoea

Accompanying symptoms can also include:

  • Slight fever
  • Stomach cramps
  • Aching limbs
  • Headaches

Sudden diarrhoea and vomiting are the tell-tale signs that you’ve caught norovirus, the best thing you can do, to prevent spreading, is to stay at home until you’re feeling better.

How the Virus Is Spread

As you may well have seen in the news recently, the virus is easily spread in confined spaces, especially wherever numbers of people are in close contact. Schools, hospitals and nursing homes are often in the news after an outbreak. The common alias of ‘the cruise ship virus’ is a label that tells you how contagious the stomach flu virus can be in confined spaces.

Preventing Norovirus

It is not always going to be possible to be 100% sure of avoiding norovirus. However, following the tips below can help to stop the virus spreading and can help keep you and other virus-free:

  • Stay at home and away from work or school for at least 48 hours after symptoms have passed. It is particularly important to avoid visiting anyone in hospital, a nursing home, a school or indeed any environment where there are numerous people in confined spaces.
  • Frequently wash your hands with soap and water. Washing your hands with soap and water is fundamentally important for avoiding the virus in the first place, and critical to prevent you from spreading the virus others if you have contracted it. Alcohol based hand sanitizers are shown to be less effective against norovirus. Studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that soap and water are more effective than hand sanitizers for removing or inactivating certain germs, including norovirus.
  • Disinfect surfaces and objects that could be contaminated. To be sure that the germs have been thoroughly cleansed, a household bleach cleaner is best.
  • Don’t forget to clean the less obvious places around the home. If you or someone at home are ill, don’t forget to clean all of the small spots that the sick person is likely to have been in contact with. Norovirus can live on hard surfaces for days, so it’s important to cleanse all the small places that you’ve come into contact. Small spots to be particular with include doorknobs, computer keyboards and mice, remote controls and mobile phones.
  • Wash clothing and bedding that could be contaminated on a separate hot wash.
  • Clean carpets and rugs. Viruses can live for considerable periods of time in rugs and carpets. If someone vomits on your carpet, it may be best to have it professionally cleaned. Some studies show that steam cleaning can be more effective for killing germs than wet shampooing.
  • Avoid sharing flannels and towels.
  • Raw, unwashed, produce is best avoided if there is a known outbreak of norovirus at home or in town. In particular, Oysters can carry norovirus, so it’s always advisable to only eat Oysters that have come from a reliable source.