Viral gastro-enteritis

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Viral gastro-enteritis is a sporadic, often seasonal viral infection sometimes called gastric flu, Rotavirus or Norwalk virus. It can affect both individuals and quite commonly, large groups of people.

Viral gastro-enteritis is commonly caught from:

  • close contact with another infected person
  • eating food which has been contaminated with the organism
  • contamination in the environment, especially of toilets

The illness usually occurs within 24–48 hours of infection but it can vary from 10 to 50 hours depending on the dose and how strong this strain of virus is.

  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • abdominal pain
  • fever
  • Wash hands thoroughly after going to the toilet and before preparing meals or eating
  • Young children with the infection should have their hands washed for them or be supervised
  • Disinfect all areas in the toilet daily (including door handles) and also any other areas which may have been contaminated by vomit
  • Infected people should stay away from work until they have been free of symptoms of diarrhoea and vomiting for at least 48 hours
  • If the infected person is in a high risk group e.g. is a food handler, nursery worker, nurse or carer for the elderly etc. they cannot return to work until they have been completely recovered for 48 hours. Sometimes clear faecal specimens (negative results) are required. Also, it may be necessary to temporarily exclude infected children from playgroups, nurseries, childminders or schools. An Officer from the department will inform you if exclusion is necessary and when you are able to resume activities
  • Your GP will be able to give you advice on treatment.
  • You should tell your place of work or in the case of children, the head teacher of the school to find out if exclusion is necessary and when you can return.

If you report your infection, the council’s investigating officer will give you a more general leaflet on infection control.

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