Symptoms include nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting, high temperature, headache, and aching arms and legs
A severe stomach bug – the winter vomiting virus – is circulating, with reported cases tripling in the last week, although the real number is expected to be much higher.
Hospitals are under pressure and some have had to shut wards due to a surge in the winter vomiting virus.
The bug, known as the norovirus, is easily passed on and can cause explosive vomiting and diarrhoea.
It usually goes away after two or three days, but those infected are told to stay at home until 48 hours after symptoms have resolved.
It is understood that hospitals in Cork city, including the Mercy Hospital, and parts of the west have been impacted by outbreaks of the winter vomiting virus, which comes at a time when seasonal illnesses, such as flu, will rise due to more mixing and travel.
Symptoms include nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting and a person may also have a high temperature, headache, aching arms and legs.
A spokeswoman for the HSE said the Health Protection Surveillance Centre data showed winter vomiting bug notifications in Ireland tripled to more than 30 per week. The real figure is expected to be much higher.
There has also been a significant upsurge in norovirus outbreaks in healthcare facilities.
She said: “High levels of norovirus activity can increase demand on healthcare facilities and staff.
“The current internationally circulating strain of norovirus is GII.4 (Sydney). This has been the main circulating strain since 2012.
“Health and care professionals are being urged to have a high index of suspicion for norovirus.”
Most people with norovirus make a full recovery within one to two days, however some people – usually the very young or elderly – may become very dehydrated and require hospital treatment.
Rest and having lots of fluid are recommended. In severe cases, however, some people may need to be hospitalised.
The message to the public is that it is not always possible to avoid getting norovirus, but following the advice below can help stop the virus spreading.
Stay off work or school until at least 48 hours after the symptoms have passed. You should also avoid visiting anyone in hospital during this time.
Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water. Do not rely on alcohol hand gels, as they do not kill the virus.
Disinfect any surfaces or objects that could be contaminated. It’s best to use a bleach-based household cleaner.
Wash any items of clothing or bedding that could have become contaminated separately on a hot wash to ensure the virus is killed.
Don’t share towels and flannels.
Flush away any infected poo or vomit in the toilet and clean the surrounding area.