Chocolates, magazines or grapes? Whatever you bring into hospital, make sure it isn’t norovirus.
Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust (LCHS) is asking anyone planning to visit Spalding’s Johnson Community Hospital to stay at home if they or their family members have had diarrhoea, vomiting or ‘flu-like’ symptoms in the last four days.
Sometimes visitors feel they must take every opportunity to visit sick friends or relatives. However, if they themselves have been unwell, they could be putting others at risk
The request is to help keep ‘winter vomiting’ or norovirus away from vulnerable patients and staff who could pass it on. Symptoms of norovirus include diarrhoea and vomiting and can seriously affect vulnerable patients.
It can be exacerbated by colder weather and be particularly serious for people who are already ill or who have a long term condition.
If you are worried about prolonged symptoms you can contact NHS Direct on www.nhs.uk or 0845 4647 or ring NHS 111 or your GP. They will be able to provide advice for people who are at greater risk from dehydration from diarrhoea and vomiting, such as children under the age of five or the elderly.
Good hand hygiene can help to limit the spread of infection and there are some simple steps the public can take to help stop the virus spreading:
* Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and warm water, particularly after using the toilet and before preparing food;
* If you’re in an NHS facility pay attention to hand hygiene notices such as using hand gel upon entering and exiting a ward;
* Disinfect any surfaces or objects that could be contaminated with norovirus. It is best to use a bleach-based household cleaner and follow the instructions on the product;
* Flush away any infected faeces or vomit in the toilet. You should also keep the surrounding toilet area clean and hygienic;
* Wash any clothing or linens which could have become contaminated with norovirus, washing with hot, soapy water.
Although people usually recover without treatment in 24-72 hours, it is important to stay away from work, school, college or social gatherings until you have been symptom-free for at least 48 hours.
If you have norovirus the best thing to do is rest and take plenty of non-caffeinated drinks to avoid dehydration. Don’t visit your GP surgery or local A&E. You should recover naturally without any specific treatment.
Cheryl Day, lead matron for infection prevention at LCHS, said: “Norovirus is highly infectious and easily spread through hand to hand contact, or by touching surfaces which have germs on them.
“The infection usually starts suddenly and the symptoms pass quickly. It can more seriously affect those patients who are already unwell or those who have significant underlying medical conditions.
“If you think you may have the illness it is important to stay away from hospitals, GP surgeries and care homes for at least 48 hours after your symptoms have stopped to avoid spreading it to people who may have underlying health conditions and already be vulnerable.
“We know that sometimes visitors feel they must take every opportunity to visit sick friends or relatives. However, if they themselves have been unwell, they could be putting others at risk. If you’re unsure whether to visit, please feel free to contact the ward nurse before you come into hospital.”