How to avoid getting norovirus this winter
Advice is being given to avoid getting and spreading the winter vomiting bug norovirus across Devon.
Over the past month there have been twice as many community outbreaks reported in the south west compared to last year, mainly in care homes, nurseries and schools.
There have also been more hospital ward closures, and more GP consultations for vomiting, diarrhoea and gastroenteritis than last year.
People are advised to wash their hands thoroughly using soap and water and drying them after using the toilet, before preparing food and eating. They should not rely on alcohol gels as these do not kill the virus.
If people do develop symptoms, they should avoid GP surgeries and hospitals to help stop the infection spreading.
Bharat Pankhania, consultant in health protection for Public Health England south west, said: "Across the south west we are seeing more norovirus circulate than last year in care homes, hospitals, schools and nurseries.
"To reduce the risk of catching it people need to wash their hands regularly and thoroughly, but if they do develop vomiting or diarrhoea, seek advice from a pharmacist or NHS 111.
"Please don't visit vulnerable family and friends, especially in hospital or in care homes, until at least 48 hours after symptoms have stopped."
Norovirus is the most common stomach bug in the UK, affecting people of all ages. It is highly contagious and is transmitted by contact with contaminated surfaces, an infected person, or consumption of contaminated food or water.
The symptoms of norovirus are very distinctive; People often report a sudden onset of nausea followed by projectile vomiting and watery diarrhoea.