Norovirus, also known as the ‘winter vomiting bug’, is a stomach bug that causes vomiting and diarrhoea. It can be very unpleasant, but usually goes away in about two days. Symptoms start suddenly within 1-2 days of being infected.

The main symptoms of norovirus are:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea


You may also have:

  • a raised temperature
  • aching arms and legs
  • a headache


If you have norovirus, it is very important to stay off school or work until you have not been sick or had diarrhoea for at least 2 days as this is when you are most infectious. Do not visit hospitals or care homes during this time.

How is norovirus spread?

The virus can spread from person to person through hand to mouth contact and can be picked up by touching infected surfaces such as equipment, hands, toys, or dirty nappies or from eating food prepared or handled by someone with norovirus.

Washing your hands frequently with soap and water is the best way to stop it spreading. Alcohol hand gels do not kill norovirus.

How to treat norovirus yourself

You can usually treat yourself or your child at home. The most important thing is to rest and have lots of fluids to avoid dehydration. You will usually start to feel better in 2 to 3 days.

Find out how to treat diarrhoea and vomiting in children and adults

Norovirus: what schools need to do

Exclude the infected individual until 48 hours after symptoms have stopped and they are well enough to return and encourage individuals to implement good hand hygiene and good respiratory hygiene practices.

Clean kitchen and toilet areas regularly (further details are available via cleaning) and use PPE when handling blood or bodily fluids such as vomit or diarrhoea.

For more information for schools please visit Managing Specific Infectious Diseases - Norovirus