As norovirus cases are spreading in nurseries and care homes, we take a closer look at the symptoms to look out for in children, and what to do if they start
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Cases of the highly-transmissible norovirus have been rising, especially in nurseries and care homes in England, according to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).
The UKHSA has warned that “unusual or out of season increases” could be seen in the coming months, also urging that people with symptoms stay at home and avoid elderly relatives.
Norovirus is a winter vomiting bug which is highly infectious and transmissible through contact which those who are infected, and contaminated surfaces.
Professor Saheer Gharbia, directorate of gastrointestinal pathogens and food safety at the UKHSA said: “Stay at home if you are experiencing norovirus symptoms and do not return to work or send children to school or nursery until 48 hours after symptoms have cleared.
“Please avoid visiting elderly relatives if you are unwell – particularly if they are in a care home or hospital.”
What are the symptoms of norovirus in children?
Very small children, the elderly and anyone with a weakened immune systems have a higher risk of getting very sick with viruses such as norovirus.
Symptoms of norovirus are very similar in all age groups, although children are more likely to have vomiting as the main symptoms, while adults may have more diarrhoea, according to the Children’s Health website.
According to the NHS, there are six main symptoms of norovirus. They are:
- Feeling sick (nausea)
- Being sick (vomiting)
- at high temperature
- Aching arms and legs
You should also look for signs of dehydration in children.
Signs may include dry mouth with sticky or no saliva, crying without tetrsars, dry-looking eyes or no urination for more than six to eight hours for young children, or 10 to 12 hours for older children.
The symptoms usually appear suddenly within one to two days of being infected.
However, if a child under five is showing signs of dehydration, such as fewer wet nappies, you should call 111.
How to treat norovirus
If you or your child has norovirus you should be able to treat the symptoms at home.
According to the NHS, the most important this is to avoid dehydration by resting and drinking lots of fluids.
The symptoms should ease within two to three days. Both children and adults should stay away from school and work during this time.
According to the NHS, you should wait for at least two days since you’ve been sick or had diarrhoea to avoid infecting others.
However, if you’re worried about a baby under 12 months, you should get advice from 111.
You should do the same if your child stops breast or bottle feeding while ill.
See a full list of reasons why you should contact 111 if you have norovirus on the NHS website.
How is norovirus spread and how can I stop my child catching it?
Norovirus can easily spread from close contact with someone with the virus.
This includes coming into contact with surfaces or objects that have the virus on them, or eating food that’s been handled by someone with the virus.
The best way to stop your child catching it is by washing hands frequently with soap and water.
Alcohol hand gels do not kill norovirus, the NHS says.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.