The winter vomiting bug

If you catch norovirus, stay at home for 48 hours after your symptoms have stopped to avoid spreading it further.

What is norovirus?


Norovirus is one of the most common stomach bugs in the UK. It's also sometimes called the "winter vomiting bug" because it's more common in winter, although you can catch it at any time of the year.

It spreads very easily, and it can affect anyone of any age, causing vomiting and diarrhoea,

Other symptoms include:

Norovirus can be very unpleasant but it usually clears up by itself in a few days. You just have to let it run its course and avoid contact with other people until you feel better.

Avoiding norovirus

There’s no 100% effective way to avoid norovirus. There are some things you can do to reduce your chances of catching it such as:

    • keeping your hands clean by washing them with soap and water - alcohol based hand rub is ineffective against norovirus
    • avoiding raw, unwashed food
    • not sharing towels, flannels or toothbrushes
    • keeping household surfaces clean

How to avoid Norovirus (Audio)

If you catch norovirus


Staying at home and keeping your hands clean can help avoid spreading norovirus to others. You can still be infectious up to 48 hours after your symptoms have stopped, so it’s best to avoid seeing other people during that time.

It’s especially important to avoid visiting anyone in a hospital or care home, as norovirus is more serious for people who are already ill.

Find out more

For more information about norovirus or how to look after someone with norovirus read the stay at home leaflet.