Norovirus causes sudden vomiting and diarrhoea and is highly infectious. It's sometimes known as 'winter vomiting virus' because it's common for it to occur during the winter months each year.
Symptoms usually last for two to three days and there are no longlasting effects. There are no medicines to treat it.
If you have symptoms of norovirus:
- go home from work or school as soon as possible
- don't go to the hospital or your GP surgery (unless advised by your doctor)
- don't return to work or school until 48 hours after all symptoms have passed
- drink little and often
- if you have a pre-existing serious medical condition contact your GP
- if symptoms continue for more than three or four days contact your GP
Stop norovirus spreading from person to person
Because norovirus is so infectious, it's important you help to stop it spreading by:
- washing your hands thoroughly and often, using soap and water
- cleaning contaminated surfaces carefully (wear gloves if possible)
Controlling norovirus outbreaks
Because it's so infectious, it can be difficult to control outbreaks that involve person-to-person transmission within closed communities like hospitals, hotels, nurseries and cruise ships.
Outbreaks can continue for weeks or longer because new groups of at-risk people are exposed to the disease continually. This means that closing premises or infected areas of premises doesn't guarantee that the spread of infection will be stopped.
Norovirus information on Health Protection Agency website
Norovirus on the NHS website
Cryptosporidium is a tiny parasite that cannot be killed by disinfectants and bleach. Symptoms include
- loss of appetite
- abdominal pain
- watery diarrhoea
The infection can be passed from person to person by the faecal-oral route, via water, undercooked meats, unpasteurised milk, and contact with farm animals and pets.
Cryptosporidium information on Health Protection Agency website
Legionnaires' disease is normally contracted by inhaling legionella bacteria (either in tiny droplets of water or in the particles left after the water has evaporated) deep into the lungs. Initial symptoms of legionnaires' disease include:
- high fever
- muscle pain
Patients may also develop a dry cough, difficulty with breathing, diarrhoea or vomiting and confusion.
Legionnaires' disease can be treated effectively with antibiotics.
Legionnaires' disease information on Health Protection agency website
You can get giardia by direct contact with infected humans or animals, or by water or food that has been contaminated by infected faeces. You can also get it by swimming in water that's contaminated.
The symptoms of giardia are diarrhoea and abdominal cramps, and it can spread easily within a family.
Giardia information on NHS Choices website
All animals naturally carry a range of micro-organisms, some of which can be transmitted to humans and cause ill health. It is important to take precautions if you allow the public to touch and / or handle animals.
Download the farm safety checklist (size 192kb)
Download preventing or controlling ill health from animal contact at visitor attractions (size 125kb)
Farming and countryside education website