Norovirus, nicknamed the winter vomiting bug, has been causing havoc across many parts of the UK, and a report published at the end of last week revealed 60 schools in the North of England alone had pupils and staff off sick.
The virus is incredibly contagious, spread through close contact with someone with norovirus or touching surfaces, objects or food that have the virus on them.
And symptoms can be very unpleasant, causing vomiting and diarrhoea.
So which parts of the UK have been hit by norovirus so far and what can be done to prevent its spread?
In England, the following counties have had reports of norovirus:
Tyne and Wear
Last week, a number of people were reported falling ill after attending a Lego brick show in Bristol. Schools, hospitals and businesses int he read have also been affected.
In Cheshire, Crewe’s Leighton Hospital closed two of its wards to visitors and admissions after some patients had the illness.
Royal Cornwall Hospital was forced to close a ward at the beginning of the month after an outbreak of norovirus.
North Devon District Hospital was on “red alert” and closed a ward int he first week of November.
Last week, Queen Elizabeth Hospital was Whitby an outbreak of norovirus resulting in restricted visiting on some wards.
Cheadle Hulme School in Greater Manchester closed its junior buildings after Public health England advised to carry out a deep clean.
In September, Carnforth North Road Primary School in Lancashire was shit after 50 pupils and staff were taken ill in a suspected norovirus outbreak.
At the end of last week, The Stamford School Sports Centre Memorial Pool in Stamford, Lincolnshire was closed after someone suffering from the winter vomiting bug used the facilities.
Nottingham University Hospital Trust issued a warning to visitors last week after norovirus reported on hospital wards.
The Fairoak ward at Cannock Chase Hospital had visiting times restricted to just an hour a day while medics tried to manage a norovirus outbreak.
The Public Health England North East health protection team told Chronicle Live they were working with staff at Kells Lane Primary School in Low Fell, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear to manage norovirus.
Warwick Hospital’s Carries Ward was closed at the end of October due to a confirmed norovirus outbreak.
And in Yorkshire, a number of cases of norovirus were reported at Hull Royal Infirmary.
In Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, the following areas have seen reports:
Neath Port Talbot
At the end of October more than 70 patients and staff were struck down with norovirus following an outbreak in hospitals in Swansea and Neath port Talbot.
Two wards at Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University in Lanarkshire were closed because of the virus.
And Portstewart Primary School, which has over 200 pupils, was closed for a deep clean to minimise the risk of the virus spreading.
So what are the symptoms of norovirus to watch out for and how can you stop it spreading?
The NHS lists the main symptoms of norovirus as:
- Feeling sick (nausea)
- Being sick (vomiting)
A person with norovirus may also experience:
- A high temperature of 38C or above
- A headache
- Aching arms and legs
These symptoms usually start within one to two days of being infected.
One preventative method you should carry out to avoid catching the virus, according to Dr Jonathan Hayes, is to practice good hygiene.
A GP and clinical chair at Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (BNSSG) CCG, Dr Hayes told SomersetLive: “One of the best ways to protect against norovirus is by practicing good hygiene. This includes thorough hand washing with soap and warm water after using the toilet and before eating or preparing foods.
“Most people will make a full recovery within a couple of days but it is important to drink plenty of fluids during that time to prevent dehydration especially in the very young, elderly or those with weakened immunity.
“Also, if you are experiencing symptoms of norovirus please don’t visit hospitals, GP surgeries or care homes. The impact can be huge if you spread norovirus – not just on vulnerable patients who are already unwell but on the availability of beds for other people.”