PEOPLE who fall ill with a winter virus that causes diarrhoea and vomiting are being urged to stay away from St George’s Hospital to protect patients and healthcare workers.

The virus, which doctors describe as ‘unpleasant but rarely serious,’ is spread easily from one person to another and lasts between one and two days.

Doctors add that patients with the virus do not require hospital treatment except in exceptional circumstances as the illness tends to run its course and resolve itself without the need for medical attention.

The hospital reports it has seen around a dozen people with symptoms similar to those associated with Norovirus – the so-called Winter Vomiting Disease. An outbreak of the virus last Christmas forced the hospital to close three wards to new admissions though prompt action by staff prevented the disease from spreading more widely around the hospital.

The virus affects up to one million people in the UK every year.

Symptoms of the virus include nausea (feeling sick), a sudden onset of vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach pains or camps, headaches, fever and tiredness.

Although the symptoms tend to pass after one or two days, people can remain infectious for up to 48 hours afterwards.

Patients with diarrhoea and vomiting are urged to call their GP or NHS Direct on 0845 4647 for advice.

The hospital’s infection control doctor, Dr Peter Riley, says:

“The Winter Vomiting Disease can pass from one person to another very easily. It is unpleasant but rarely serious, and most people make a full recovery within one or two days.

“If you have the virus, it’s important to wash and dry your hands thoroughly after going to the toilet and before you handle food to prevent the virus from being passed on to others.”

“Unless your symptoms are very severe or long lasting, we would advise you not to come to hospital for treatment.

“By doing so, all you will do is pass the virus on to staff and other patients, and affect the healthcare of many other people as a result.”

The advice from doctors is to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration and let the illness run its course.

“There is no specific treatment for the virus and there is nothing your doctor can do to speed up your recovery,” adds Dr Riley.

“However, people with diarrhoea and vomiting should seek medical advice if their symptoms last more than 48 hours, or if they have a pre-existing medical condition.”

“Older people and children under one years of age may also need to seek medical advice.

“If you fall into this category, please telephone your GP for advice rather than go to your surgery.

“You could pass the infection on to others.”

For more information download our Norovirus information leaflet.

Further information about the Winter Vomiting Disease can be found on the Health Protection Agency website at