Help prevent the spread of Norovirus and why you should move your toothbrush away from the toilet basin


If you want to help stop Norovirus spreading don’t go to hospital - and move your toothbrush away from anywhere near the toilet basin.

A nurse has explained that the most important thing people from Cornwall who are ill with the sickness or diarrhoea virus can do to prevent the spread of the highly infectious bug is stay away from hospital.

She also suggests that people can also reduce spread at home by moving their toothbrush away from the toilet.

Cases of Norovirus are causing some disruption in hospital and people are being urged to be alert to symptoms and to follow advice on self-care and minimise the risk of spread.

A ward at the Royal Cornwall Hospital, Treliske, remains closed and there are reports of cases in nursing homes and schools elsewhere in the county.

Norovirus causes unpleasant symptoms such as sickness, diarrhoea, stomach cramps, a temperature, headache and aching limbs and is highly contagious.

There is no specific treatment for the bug and most people make a full recovery within two days. Some people, usually the very young or elderly, may become dehydrated and require hospital treatment.

Norovirus can cause problems in hospitals and care homes if brought in by visitors. Once on the wards, the bug can lead to cancelled operations, delayed recovery and prevent other patients from being admitted. Anyone who has, or is recovering from Norovirus, should avoid visiting hospitals or care homes. You should still go to the emergency department if you need emergency medical attention, but please tell staff if you have diarrhoea or sickness symptoms.

Lisa Johnson, Nurse Consultant Director of Infection Prevention and Control at NHS Kernow said: “Cases of Norovirus continue to affect our hospitals and care homes, so we need everyone to reduce the spread of the virus by remembering the basic rules of good hygiene. This will help reduce the spread of bugs and infections. You can reduce the risk by washing your hands properly, especially after using the toilet and before eating and avoiding contact with people with symptoms.”

The nurse also has some top tips about other ways you can reduce the risk of catching Norovirus such as moving the toothbrush away from near the toilet basin.

She said: “You might not give leaving your toothbrush in its holder above the toilet a second thought. When someone in the household has diarrhoea and vomiting, if Norovirus is the cause, it can spread very rapidly to anyone who uses the same bathroom. Flush handles, door handles, taps, toothbrushes and the basin can all become contaminated with the virus. Scrupulous cleaning after symptoms reduces contamination. Move the toothbrushes and give everyone separate towels to limit the chances of spread.

Lisa added: “If you do get a bug like this, please don’t visit someone in a hospital or care home for at least three days after symptoms have disappeared, otherwise you could be putting vulnerable people at risk. Staff can plan for hospital visits from people who have Norovirus in exceptional circumstances if they are forewarned.

“People with suspected Norovirus who have hospital outpatients appointments should telephone outpatients to establish if it is appropriate for them to attend, and anyone needing emergency care should declare their symptoms as soon as they arrive.”

Simple precautions can reduce the spread of Norovirus:

  • Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration
  • Have plenty of rest
  • Thorough hand washing to prevent others becoming infected. Always clean your hands with soap and hot water when entering and leaving a hospital, nursing home or anywhere else where there are vulnerable people
  • Do not handle or prepare food for other people for a minimum of 48 hours until symptom free
  • Avoid contact with anyone suffering from the virus for two to three days after they are completely free of symptoms
  • Medical advice should be sought if symptoms continue beyond 48 hours
  • Call the NHS 111 helpline if symptoms do not quickly subside or you have additional concerns; visit NHS Choices website or your pharmacist.

You can listen to full interview with Lisa Johnson, Nurse Consultant Director of Infection Prevention and Control, here.