With winter upon us, we hit the time of the year when the sickness bug is everywhere. As a parent, it’s essential to know how to stop Norovirus spread in infants and kids.
So, other than locking ourselves away all year, how can we prevent transmission as quickly as possible?
In this post, we give you some helpful guidelines on dealing with a Norovirus outbreak. We talk about preventing the spread of Norovirus and how to clean your house after a stomach virus.
What is Norovirus
Norovirus is a highly contagious and common virus causing sickness and vomiting in human beings. More than 23 million people contract Norovirus every year in the United States alone. Symptoms begin about 24 to 30 hours after first being exposed to the virus, and most people get better after 48 to 72 hours.
There are several causes of Norovirus:
- Being exposed and ingesting fecal matter: i.e., coming into contact with someone who has not washed their hands after going to the toilet.
- Touching surfaces that someone has contaminated with Norovirus.
- Close contact with someone with Norovirus
- Eating contaminated food prepared by someone with Norovirus.
Symptoms of Norovirus.
- Vomiting and diarrhea, which lasts one or more days.
- Nausea (feeling sick)
- Fever 38 degrees Celcius or above
- Stomach cramping
- Muscle pain
- Generally feeling unwell
- A headache
- Aching arms and legs
- Norovirus skin rash
Symptoms usually start to clear up between three days to a week.
Symptoms of Norovirus in infants
- Irritability or fussiness
It is always best to seek medical advice from a healthcare professional if you think your infant has Norovirus. It is very easy for babies and infants to become dehydrated during infection, so it’s best to get advice on treating your baby from your local hospital or clinic.
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How to help an infected person
What you will need
- Bucket or bowl I used to use one like this one as it was light for little fingers
- A few changes of bedding. Store in the child’s room to speed up the changing process
- Waterproof mattress pad like this one
- Change of towels
- Toothbrush and toothpaste to brush teeth after vomiting. Stomach acid is not kind to teeth, and a swift brush will get rid of the nasty taste and protect teeth from the acid.
- Antiseptic wipes to wipe surfaces and any areas a sick person may have been in contact with.
- Frozen Ice pops or lollies to give to children or adults if they are struggling to drink fluids.
- Hand gel to help prevent the spread of bacteria to other surfaces.
- Flannels soaked in a disinfectant solution to keep hands and face clean.
- Bottled water for the bedside table to prevent dehydration.
- Lucozade or a similar drink to help keep energy up.
- Electrolyte rehydration sachets to replenish electrolytes lost through sickness and diarrhea and prevent dehydration symptoms. Follow dosage instructions on the packet.
- Hydration. Make sure the patient is well hydrated. Please encourage them to drink sips of water regularly. For Norovirus in infants and kids, give ice lollies or ice pops to suck for extra hydration.
- Keep isolated. Keep an infected person at home with plenty of bed rest until they are well enough to return to school or work ( after 48 hours symptom-free ).
- Control the fever. Use paracetamol or Ibuprofen to control temperature/fever.
- Use a small vomit bucket. When treating Norovirus in infants and toddlers, use a small sick bucket like this one as it’s light and the right size for keeping next to the bed or the settee, and you can reuse it when they are better.
Note: If your child refuses fluids, has blood in their stools, has an unusual rash, stiff neck, is unusually sleepy, has difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms, ring your GP or take them to hospital.
Click here for the NHS emergency helpline
How to recover from Norovirus
- When recovering from Norovirus, it is essential to stay isolated for 48 hours after being sick.
- Try to drink plenty of fluids and eat light meals.
- Try to get plenty of rest to help you recover fully.
Prevention of Norovirus in infants
Preventing Norovirus in infants and children
- Wash your hands
Wash your hands thoroughly with hot water and liquid antibacterial soap after every time you’ve cleared up urine, sick, or feces.
It would help if you used a facemask to protect yourself too.
Ensure that you follow the correct hand washing technique.
While washing with soapy water will not kill Norovirus, it helps control the spread of the virus by washing the germs away from your hands and down the sink!
- Keep the infected person clean.
Ensure the infected person is washing their hands thoroughly.
If the patient is a small child, keep a bowl of hot soapy water and a flannel near their bed, and keep wiping their hands.
- Establish a good cleaning routine
Clean and sanitize all areas thoroughly before and after caring for a sick family member.
A good bleach spray and bleach wipes are suitable for surfaces, light switches, toilet flushers, remote controls, and phones.
A thorough clean with bleach is suitable for bathrooms, but remember to check the instructions on the product’s packaging as most bleaches have a dwell- time, which means it may have to sit on a surface for 5-10 minutes before it kills Norovirus.
- Wash hands before handling food.
Wash hands before eating or handling food.
One of the quickest ways to spread viral gastroenteritis is via the hands. Use an antibacterial hand wash and carry an alcohol hand gel if you are eating out.
Avoid cooking for others if you are or have recently been poorly. Always follow the correct food safety procedures to cook or serve food. (Alcohol gel does not kill Norovirus, so it should not replace handwashing )
- Wash all food during preparation.
Wash all food thoroughly before eating, especially fruit and vegetables.
- Always wash hands after using the toilet
Wash hands after using the bathroom.
You should be hand washing even when there is no sickness bug in the home!
It is imperative to teach kids good hand washing techniques to help stop the spread of Norovirus in infants and kids.
- Use separate towels
Each family member should have their own towel to reduce bacteria on towels.
Seal towels in a bag before carrying them to the laundry room to prevent spreading the Norovirus.
Do not mix with other children or adults until you are symptom-free.
It would be best not to mix with other people, especially in confined areas such as; public transport, cruise ships, airplanes, the workplace, or schools.
Children should refrain from going back to school until 48hours after the last sickness episode.
- Do a separate wash
Wash soiled towels, clothes, and bedding separately on the hottest wash you can.
Use gloves and a mask while handling soiled bedding, and make sure you wash hands afterward.
Carry all bedding in a sealed bag to prevent spreading the sickness bug.
I always add two capfuls of laundry disinfectant into the softener compartment with my usual softener.
It would be best to dry bedding and towels in the hottest setting available.
- Keep everyone safe.
Please remember small children, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with chronic illnesses can be very vulnerable to the virus. Put off visiting elderly relatives and friends and people with small children until you and your family have not been sick for 48 hours. Teach your children about Norovirus and how they can help to keep everyone safe. Being mindful of public health is paramount in the prevention of spreading Norovirus.
How to clean after Norovirus
- Start with the areas most affected by vomit or feces.
- Wear gloves and a mask.
- Fill a bowl with a diluted chlorine bleach solution for surfaces, or disinfectant for carpets and other fabric surfaces. Studies show that although hydrogen peroxide 3% is suitable for killing salmonella and e.coli ( food poisoning bacteria), it is not suitable for killing Norovirus. Bleach solution is the best way to kill Norovirus. Most disinfectants can not deactivate Norovirus, which can live in carpets and on surfaces for up to two weeks.
- Use thick paper towels and disposable cloths to wipe up the solids.
- Double bag all waste for disposal.
- Pay special attention to porous surfaces as these will need more detailed cleaning.
How to clean Norovirus on surfaces
What you will need
- Bleach wipes
- Bleach spray
- Bleach solution
- Bleach for the toilet bowl
- Thick paper towels
- Bin bags to carry soiled bedding to the washing machine.
- Old cleaning rags you can throw away after use.
- Toilet brush with disposable heads.
- A toilet bleach block
Bleach dilution for disinfection
A chlorine bleach solution is the most effective way to kill Norovirus within the home.
It would be best if you diluted bleach according to the manufacturer’s instructions; however, a rough guide for a strong bleach solution would be:
Bleach ( 5.25% or 6.00%–6.15% sodium hypochlorite depending on the manufacturer) should be diluted in water at 1:10
After applying to the surface area, leave the bleach for a dwell time of approximately 10 to 20 minutes to kill germs. After this time, you should rinse over the surface with water.
How to kill Norovirus without bleach
Steam is an effective way to kill Norovirus as long as you use it as directed.
- 1 minute at 212 degrees Fahrenheit.
- 5 minutes at 158 degrees Fahrenheit.
How to kill Norovirus in laundry.
To sanitize towels, bedding, and contaminated clothing, you should wash laundry at no less than 60 degrees or hotter if possible. Choose the longest and hottest setting you can.
You should then dry laundry thoroughly in a tumble drier on the hottest setting possible and dried.
Take care not to overload the washing machine.
There are bleach laundry pods you can add to the wash if you prefer; however, in the past, I have just added a capful of bleach to the drum to kill any germs (but do this at your own risk!)
How to clean Norovirus from a mattress
- Wipe up as much of the vomit as you can with paper towels and seal them in a bag, dispose of the contaminated bag in the outside bin immediately.
- Strip the bed and carry the sheets to the laundry in a sealed bag. Start the cycle on a pre-wash; after the pre-wash, wash the bedding on as hot a wash as you can (above 60 degrees Fahrenheit) with laundry powder.
- Sponge down the bed with a household bleach solution until all the vomit has been removed and then air dry.
- If duvets have been affected, wipe the area thoroughly with bleach solution then put in the washing machine as above. If your duvet is too big for your machine, ask your local laundrette if they will accept it.
- Steam clean the mattress.
How to clean Norovirus from a carpet
- Clear up any solid pieces of vomit from the surface of the carpet with paper towels.
- Blot up any liquid from the carpet using paper towels, do not rub at this stage, or you will spread the vomit. Try to blot it all up until the paper towels are completely dry when you blot.
- Use a soapy solution and sponge to blot clean; keep repeating with a clean solution until all the vomit has gone.
- Rinse by blotting with a disinfectant solution (remember a bleach solution will kill the Norovirus but may discolor your carpet)
- Blot as much as you can with paper towels to dry the carpet
- Allow to dry.
- Steam clean the carpet or get a professional carpet cleaner in when you can.
- Always check manufacturers instructions on your carpet before starting any of the above recommendations.
How to clean Norovirus from a car
- Scrape all the solid bits off with a scraper and thick paper towels
- Blot as much of the liquid up as you can with paper towels
- Sprinkle baking powder thickly over the area and leave for 30 minutes
- Hoover up the baking powder.
- Use a disinfectant solution ( I prefer dettol), blot the area until all signs of the vomit have disappeared. (Bleach solution will kill norovirus but will also remove color out of fabrics)
- Blot up the excess moisture with paper towels and allow to dry.
- Clean any vinyl areas affected with soapy water, then wipe with bleach wipes.
- Open up all windows and doors to help remove any residual smell.
- It’s advisable to have the car interior professionally cleaned if you can or steam clean if possible.
How to clean Norovirus from a car seat
- Remove any removable parts and place them in a bowl of soapy water.
- Scrape any solid bits from the seat using a scraper and paper towels
- Follow the procedure above for cleaning vomit from a car.
- Steam clean, if possible.
How to kill Norovirus in the air
It’s impossible to kill germs in the air in a domestic environment. It is, however, beneficial to open all the windows and allow fresh air to circulate throughout the home.
Even though dishwashers do kill E-coli, they do not kill Norovirus.
I usually soak contaminated dishes in a bleach solution, wash with hot soapy water, and rinse thoroughly.
Vinegar is not thought to be successful in killing Norovirus.
Depending on the surface and temperature, it can live on contaminated fabrics for up to twelve days and hard surfaces for weeks.
Go to the CDC website to read CDC recommendations for cleaning and preventing Norovirus in infants and kids.
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