Visitors and patients can help keep Norovirus out of hospital
St George’s Hospital, Tooting, is asking patients and visitors suffering with symptoms of diarrhoea or vomiting (D&V) not to come into hospital and instead contact their GP or pharmacy.
Alison Robertson, director of nursing and infection control at St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust, says: “People with symptoms of D&V could be suffering with Norovirus, a bug which is generally unpleasant but rarely serious for otherwise healthy people. It can, however, become a very serious illness for patients in hospital who are already weakened by other conditions.
“Norovirus is exceptionally infectious and passes easily from one person to the next. This is why people suffering with D&V must not come into hospital, including those with outpatient appointments.
“Friends and relatives with symptoms of the virus are asked not visit patients on our wards until they are no longer infectious – at least 48 hours after the symptoms have stopped. Visitors bringing the virus into the hospital will put vulnerable patients at risk.
“With schools and local businesses gearing back up again after the festive break, the community may experience a rise in infection rates. This is the time to be most vigilant and avoid passing the virus to friends and family.
“The advice for healthy adults suffering with the virus is to rest, drink plenty of water and let the illness run its course. People should speak to their GP, pharmacy or NHS Direct over the telephone if they need more guidance.”
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People showing the following symptoms should not come into hospital:
- Nausea (feeling sick)
- Stomach pains or cramps
- Fever and tiredness
For further advice, people suffering with these symptoms are urged to call their GP or NHS Direct on 0845 46 47 (www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk). Symptoms should pass within 60 hours. The advice of doctor’s is to rest, drink plenty of fluids and let the illness runs its own course.
Norovirus is the most common cause of infectious gastroenteritis in England and Wales. Although relatively mild, Norovirus illness can occur at any age because immunity to it is not long-lasting. The syndrome is commonly referred to as “winter vomiting disease” due to its seasonality and typical symptoms. Outbreaks of Norovirus gastroenteritis are common in semi-closed environments such as hospitals, nursing homes, schools and cruise ships.
People with diarrhoea and vomiting should seek medical advice if their symptoms last more than 60 hours, or if they have a pre-existing medical condition.
Older people and children under 12 months old may also need to seek medical advice via their GP.
More information about winter vomiting and diarrhoea illnesses can be found on the Health Protection Agency website: www.hpa.org.uk.