Norovirus, or the dreaded bug that causes vomiting and diarrhea, cannot be avoided by washing your hands with gel that contains alcohol, one British doctor reports.

The norovirus, which strikes schools and workplaces around this time of year, can cause up to 71,000 hospitalizations in the United States annually.

And while there is little that can be done once you’ve been in contact with the virus, you can work to prevent infecting yourself or your family.

People with norovirus are contagious from the second they feel ill, so it is important that you stay away from that person if you do not need to be near them.

Unfortunately, if you have to care for a child or older adult with norovirus, it is very likely you’ll catch it as well.

Dr. Wigglesworth, President of the Infection Prevention Society in the UK, states that using alcoholic hand gels doesn’t kill the germs.

Instead, after you’ve come in contact with someone with norovirus, it is very important that you wash your hands thoroughly with regular soap and water to prevent catching the disease or spreading it to others.

If you’ve already got the norovirus, you’ll need to do a great deal to ensure that those around you do not become infected.

During the time you are ill, do not prepare food for anyone else but yourself, and do not touch food that other people in your household will be eating. It is best to eat your food away from those in your home.

If you are caring for someone with norovirus, wash their clothes thoroughly in hot water.

In order keep the virus away from you, handle the clothing with rubber gloves.

When washing clothing, especially those soiled with vomit or stool, do not shake them as this can spread the germs.

Make sure not to allow anyone in your charge who has norovirus to visit anyone who is sick.

This includes visits to the hospital or visiting a friend or family member who may be undergoing chemotherapy or any other immune compromising treatment.

Lastly, wash your hands thoroughly and as often as possible.

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