Mother and Baby

The contagious vomiting and diarrhoea bug sweeping the UK – what you need to know

Sick child

A nasty vomiting and diarrhoea bug is said to be sweeping the country, commonly affecting young people and children and spreading in schools.  Named shigellosis or shigella, the bug is more common in young children than adults. Also known as the ‘winter vomiting bug’, it is in fact most common in early autumn.

What is shigellosis?

According to the NHS, the bug is an infectious disease called by a group of bacteria named Shigella. The common side effects include:

  • Chronic diarrhoea
  • Painful stomach cramps
  • High temperatue
  • Nausea

The symptoms can last anywhere between seven and ten days and during this time, your child is contagious so should stay away from school until they have been free of all symptoms for 48 hours.

How do I stop my child from spreading the bug?

If your child has caught the bug, to avoid spreading the illness to yourself, or other children, ensure your child washes their hands thoroughly after going to the toilet. Wash all their clothes and bedding at the hottest wash possible and clean the toilet, handles, taps and sinks with disinfectant. As mentioned, the NHS stresses it’s also important to keep your child off school or nursery until they have been symptom free for 48 hours to avoid spreading the infection to other children.

If you do catch the virus, don’t prepare food for others until you have been symptom free for 48 hours.

Is the bug serious?

Whilst it is unpleasant and your child will be uncomfortable with the symptoms, the NHS has reassured parents that the bug is rarely extremely serious. Ensure your child has plenty to drink to prevent them getting dehydrated, but contact your GP immediately on the phone to seek advice if you recognise any of the common symptoms of Shigellosis.

Read next: In a change in the law, schools will now be allowed to keep spare allergy pens 


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