Diarrhoea and vomiting are symptoms of infection caused by different bacterial, viral and parasitic agents. It should also be remembered that there are also numerous non-infectious reasons for diarrhoea and vomiting. Outbreaks of diarrhoea can have a significant effect on clinical activities leading to ward closures.

The commonest cause of an outbreak of D&V in adults is norovirus. However bacterial causes such as Clostridium difficile, Salmonella and Shigella can also cause outbreaks in hospitals, although vomiting is less common with these.

Transmission is primarily by the faecal-oral route, although norovirus can be spread by aerosol during vomiting. Salmonella infection usually starts with ingestion of contaminated food and can spread faecal-orally subsequently. Typical symptoms of Norovirus infection include a rapid onset and short duration (1-2 days), and staff as well as patients are often affected.



The purpose of the policy is to ensure early recognition of cases of ‘infectious’ diarrhoea with prompt isolation of symptomatic patients which is essential in the containment at ward level of any potential outbreak.


Policy Details

Download: PDF version
Compiled by: The Infection Control Team
Ratified by: Clinical Governance Committee
Date Ratified: January 2019
Date Issued: January 2019
Review Date: January 2022
Target Audience: All staff
Contact name: Ann Birler, Nurse Consultant / Deputy Director of Infection Prevention and Control


See also: