A Cumbrian hospital trust is urging the public to stay away from hospitals if they have any symptoms of the winter vomiting bug norovirus.
It is recommended you stay away from all health and care settings if you or anyone else you live with has had diarrhoea, vomiting or flu-like symptoms in the past 48 hours.
North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust recently reintroduced visiting by appointment only on most wards, however, cases of norovirus have meant that visiting is restricted in some areas now.
Dr Clive Graham, Consultant Medical Microbiologist at the Trust said: “When a norovirus outbreak occurs, particularly in an environment like a hospital, it is difficult to contain and can lead to the closure of entire wards, putting a huge strain on local NHS resources. Norovirus is particularly contagious and the risk of passing onto the person you are visiting in hospital who may already be quite ill – as well as other sick people and hospital staff – is extremely high.
“We are currently dealing with some cases of norovirus on the Elm wards and our nursing, medical and domestic teams are working hard to make sure it is contained so that we can offer visiting appointments again. In the meantime, we have had to suspend visiting for patients in that area.”
Norovirus is the most common stomach bug in the UK, affecting people of all ages. Like the flu, it spreads rapidly in closed environments such as hospitals, schools and care homes. It can be spread through contact with an infected person, by contact with contaminated surfaces or by consuming contaminated food or water.
Good hand hygiene is important to stop the spread of the virus. Wash your hands thoroughly using soap and water and dry them after using the toilet, before preparing food and eating. Alcohol gels does not kill norovirus.
The symptoms of norovirus are very distinctive – people often report a sudden onset of nausea followed by projectile vomiting and watery diarrhoea.
There is no treatment for norovirus but it is important people who have the winter vomiting bug keep hydrated to combat the loss of fluids. People with norovirus will recover in a day or two but will remain infectious for up to three days after recovery.
If your child is sick, you should keep them off school until they have been clear of symptoms for 48 hours. Likewise, if you are ill, you should remain at home for two days after you no longer have symptoms.
If you think you may have norovirus, it’s advised not to visit A&E or your GP surgery, but to stay at home and call NHS 111 or go to 111.nhs.uk for advice if necessary.
There are simple steps people can take to reduce the risk of spreading norovirus:
- Don’t prepare food while infected
- Immediately clean and disinfect surfaces after episodes of diarrhoea and vomiting
- Wash clothes and bed linen that may be contaminated thoroughly
- Drink plenty of fluids – stay away from caffeine and pay particular attention to the young and elderly for signs of dehydration
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