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Norovirus - General

  • Norovirus is formally known as Norwalk like virus (NLV)
  • Norovirus is an infection that can occur throughout the year, but is more common in the winter.
  • Norovirus often causes large numbers of people to become ill.
  • The spread of infection is rapid.
  • The most frequent symptom is sudden vomiting. Other symptoms may include diarrhoea, nausea, headache, mild fever and muscle aches.
  • The symptoms usually last for 1-2 days, but it can take a little longer to feel completely well.
  • There is no specific treatment as antibiotics are not effective against viruses, but it is important to drink plenty of water.

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This guidance is intended for use in:

  • care homes and other residential accommodation
  • hotels
  • bed and breakfast
  • mobile home parks
  • similar accommodation to the above

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How Norovirus is spread

When people vomit, the virus is released into the air. This may infect other people or contaminate food which is in the vicinity. Surfaces will also become contaminated which when touched may also lead to infection.

The virus can also be excreted in faeces leading to possible contamination of the hands and infection via the faecal / oral route.

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When do I need to take action?

If two or more people develop symptoms, especially vomiting this may indicate the start of an outbreak of norovirus. It is very important to act quickly.

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What action should I take?

Our Supporting Notes describe the procedures you need to follow in the event of an outbreak of norovirus. We recommend that you keep a Weekly Record for your reference. We encourage you to report a norovirus outbreak or suspected outbreak. There is no fee.

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If somebody is sick

  • It is vitally important to immediately react when somebody vomits in a public area.
  • The vomit should be covered, and the area evacuated.
  • Close doors and open windows.
  • The vomit should be wiped up and then steam cleaned or scrubbed with very hot soapy water. Alternatively hard surfaces should be disinfected with a bleach solution. Do not vacuum.
  • Dispose of all buffet or other open food which is in the room.

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Hygiene matters

Introduce hourly cleaning and disinfection of public toilets with a bleach solution paying particular attention to toilet seats, taps, door and toilet handles.

Stress the importance of thorough hand washing particularly after visiting the toilet.

Our Supporting Notes describe the correct hand washing procedure.

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Good Practice for Staff and Residents

  • Advise staff to report all incidents of vomiting.
  • Staff should read our Supporting Notes which describe the procedures to follow in the event of a Norovirus outbreak.
  • Staff should keep a Weekly Illness Record.
  • Ensure any staff member with the symptoms is excluded from work.
  • Ensure staff wear gloves and aprons when working in affected areas.
  • Staff and residents should be advised of the outbreak.
  • Those affected should be advised to stay in their rooms whilst they have symptoms.

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Please report a norovirus outbreak, or suspected outbreak, to either of the following:

Public Health England

Report Norovirus Outbreak to us.

We recommend that you keep a Weekly Illness Record ('download' available at top right hand side of this page) for your reference.

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Further Information

This information is only a brief guide, for further information please read our Supporting Notes which describe the procedures to follow in the event of a Norovirus outbreak. You can also contact us or Public Health England

Another good source of information on all aspects of food safety is Foodlink.

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Contact us


01202 261700

Text Relay
18001 01202 261700

Environmental Services
Unit 1
Newfields Business Park
2 Stinsford Road
BH17 0NF