Diarrhoea and Vomiting - The Spewy Bug

At this busy time of year, it’s easy for viruses which cause diarrhoea and vomiting, often known as the “spewy bug”, to be passed on.   Anyone can catch the virus, but children are often more susceptible through socialising, school and parties.  Know what to do if you/your child catches the spewy bug and how to prevent the spread of it.

Treating the Symptoms

Unfortunately there is no cure for the spewy bug and it just has to run its course, with symptoms usually lasting 24-48 hours.

  • Offer your child plenty of drinks, to avoid dehydration. eg sugary drinks, flat fizzy drinks or water.
  • If your child is being sick very frequently, give them 5ml (one teaspoon) of fluid every 5 minutes. Use a syringe or a tea-spoon to do this and keep going for 1-2 hours, until they feel / look better. If they do not improve, then contact your GP surgery.
  • You can give paracetamol / liquid paracetamol for fevers, aches or pains. Always make sure you use the correct dosage for your child’s age and follow the instructions on the bottle or packet very carefully.

Prevent the Spread of the Spewy Bug

The spewy bug is very contagious and gets passed on very easily.  To help reduce the spread of the virus, follow these simple rules:

  • To help prevent spread, children must stay off school and nursery for AT LEAST 48 hours AFTER the last episode of diarrhoea or vomiting. For example if the last vomit is at 6 am on Monday morning, they cannot go back to school until Wednesday morning at the earliest. This is because you can still be infectious for up to 48 hours after the symptoms have disappeared. They may need to be off school longer than this if they are still feeling unwell in themselves.
  • The 48 hour ‘rule’ also applies to staying away from anywhere where they may be in contact with other children or adults, for example parties, childminders, after school clubs, youth clubs, swimming, football training, Sunday Teas, weddings, dances and other social events etc.
  • Particular care must be taken to avoid visiting anyone in hospital or care homes, or anyone else who is more susceptible to the infection e.g. new babies.
  • If your child only has diarrhoea and not vomiting, or only has vomiting, the same rules still apply!
  • You do not need to keep your child off school just because the spewy bug is going round, unless they have a specific medical reason for needing to avoid it.
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, especially after going to the toilet and before eating. Make sure your children do the same. Alcohol based hand gels are not very effective against the viruses that cause diarrhoea and vomiting.
  • Don’t share towels or flannels.
  • Clean any surfaces or objects that could be contaminated with the virus: and regularly clean toilets and sinks etc.

More information can be found in the Diarrhoea and Vomiting leaflet and at NHS Inform