Cases of norovirus are on the rise again in Ireland, with nearly 400 recorded in the first 10 weeks of 2023.
The HSE’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) is asking people to be aware of the symptoms.
Norovirus, also known as winter vomiting bug, is an easily spread virus that causes sudden onset of vomiting and diarrhoea.
In the first 10 weeks of 2023 there have been 394 cases of norovirus recorded.
The HPSC say this is almost four times the number of cases recorded in the first 10 weeks of 2022 (109).
Young children and elderly people have been the most affected, with half of cases (50%) aged over 65 years and (28%) of cases aged under five years.
Dr Paul McKeown, HPSC consultant in public health medicine, HSE, said: "Norovirus is very easily spread between people, but it also lasts for a long time on surfaces, and if you touch a surface contaminated with norovirus and then touch your mouth, this can make you sick."
People who are ill should stay at home and avoid school, work or visits to nursing homes until symptoms are gone for at least 48 hours.
Dr McKeown added: "It is often impossible to prevent norovirus, however, taking good hygiene measures around someone who is infected can reduce your chance of getting infected.”
Some easy ways to prevent the spread of norovirus include:
- Frequent handwashing including before eating or preparing food and after using the bathroom.
- Thoroughly clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces immediately after an episode of illness by using a bleach-based household cleaner.
- Immediately remove and wash clothing or linens that may be contaminated with virus after an episode of illness (use hot water and soap).
- Flush or discard any vomit and/or faeces in the toilet and make sure that the surrounding area is kept clean.
Dr McKeown continued: "Norovirus infection is usually mild and lasts only a day or two. However, young children and elderly people can become very sick.