Manx Care has seen an increase in reports of a 'winter vomiting' bug sweeping the Isle of Man over the past few weeks.

It's called viral gastroenteritis and while it's highly contagious and the symptoms of the illness are very unpleasant, they are usually short lived.

The Isle of Man's healthcare provider has urged anyone showing symptoms of the but to refrain from visiting patients in hospitals and care homes to reduce the risk of spreading the illness.

To keep you in the know, we've compiled this handy guide to the bug, including information about the symptoms you should look out for and the best ways to treat the illness.

What is viral gastroenteritis?

Viral gastroenteritis is a stomach bug that causes vomiting and diarrhoea.

It is also referred to as the Norovirus or ‘winter vomiting bug’ by some.

According to the NHS, the condition can be very unpleasant, but usually goes away in around two days.

What are the symptoms of viral gastroenteritis and the Norovirus?

According to the NHS, the six symptoms are:

  • Feeling sick (nausea)
  • Diarrhoea
  • Physically being sick (vomiting)
  • A high temperature
  • A headache
  • Aching arms and legs

Symptoms tend to come-on suddenly within one to two days of a patient becoming infected.

How do I catch viral gastroenteritis / the Norovirus?

A 3D graphical representation of a number of Norovirus visions (Wikimedia commons: CDC / Jessica A Allen, Illustrator: Alissa Eckert, MS)

The can catch the illness by:

  • Having close contact with someone with norovirus
  • Touching surfaces or objects that have the virus on them, then touching your mouth
  • Eating food that's been prepared or handled by someone with the illness

How do I treat viral gastroenteritis / the Norovirus?

The NHS says you can usually treat yourself or your child at home if you start displaying symptoms.

The most important thing is to rest and have lots of fluids to avoid dehydration.

Individuals will usually start to feel better in two to three days of displaying symptoms.

According to the NHS, washing your hands frequently with soap and water is the best way to stop it spreading but alcohol hand gels do not kill the bug.

Will I have to go to hospital if I catch viral gastroenteritis / the Norovirus?

Manx Care says that for most of the people affected, the symptoms of the illness can be severe for between 12 to 24 hours.

However, that is usually short-lived and hospital admission is very rarely needed.

However, people who already have other illnesses can be more severely affected. 

What have Manx Care said about the situation in the Isle of Man?

Manx Care has issued a statement amid an increase in reports of the 'highly contagious' bug sweeping the island.