West Suffolk Hospital ward closes to new admissions after norovirus outbreak

West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds. Photograph Simon Parker

West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds. Photograph Simon Parker - Credit: Archant

A ward at a Suffolk hospital has closed to new admissions after patients showed signs of norovirus.

Around seven patients on Ward G5 at West Suffolk Hospital have shown symptoms of the highly contagious diarrhoea and vomiting virus.

Anyone visiting has been urged to take extra care to wash their hands with soap and water both on arrival and when leaving the ward, while anyone who has shown symptoms of the virus has been asked to stay away.

Rowan Procter, interim chief nurse at the hospital, said: 'Norovirus is very infectious and every year there are cases in the community which transfer to the hospital.

'Because the virus has an incubation period of a few days, people are often unaware that they are carrying it until after they have passed it on. 'We would advise anyone who has had diarrhoea or vomiting to stay away from the hospital for at least 48 hours after they have recovered, even if they feel better. Otherwise they run the risk of unknowingly passing the highly contagious illness on to someone who is already sick.

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'Anyone who visits the hospital should be vigilant and take care to clean their hands. If they are visiting the affected ward, they should use soap and water when they arrive and before they leave as the alcohol gel is not effective against this virus.'

Good hand hygiene can help to limit the spread of the infection and there are some simple steps that the public can take to help stop a norovirus spreading:

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• 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 leaving a ward. Washing your hands with soap and water in between is better at preventing the spread of norovirus than gel alone.

• Disinfect any surfaces or objects that could be contaminated with norovirus using a bleach-based household cleaner. Always follow the instructions on the cleaning product.

• Flush away any infected faeces or vomit and keep the surrounding toilet area clean and hygienic.

• Wash any clothing or linen which could have become contaminated with a norovirus. Washing with hot, soapy water will help to ensure that the virus is killed.

If you have norovirus, the best thing you can do is rest, and take plenty of non-caffeinated drinks to avoid dehydration. Don't visit your GP surgery or emergency department.

You should recover naturally at home with no specific treatment, although over the counter medicines, such as rehydration powders and paracetamol, can help to alleviate symptoms.

If you are worried about your symptoms you can ring NHS 111 or visit your local pharmacy. They will be able to provide advice, especially for those who are at greater risk of dehydration from diarrhoea and vomiting, such as children under the age of five or the elderly.

For more information and advice about winter illnesses, click here.

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