Plea over winter vomiting bug

MARK NICHOLLS Health chiefs last night made a plea for anyone who suspects they have been in contact with a highly-infectious winter vomiting bug to stay away from the region's key hospitals.

MARK NICHOLLS

Health chiefs last night made a plea for anyone who suspects they have been in contact with a highly-infectious winter vomiting bug to stay away from the region's key hospitals.

The winter vomiting virus is easily spread and can lead to wards being closed and patients isolated if it is brought into hospitals.

Last night, the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital urged those who fear they might be infected to stay away from health units as the risk of the winter vomiting virus - also known as the Norovirus stomach bug - rises.

Dr Judith Richards, consultant microbiologist at the N&N, said: "It's very important that people who have had the virus, or been in contact with someone who has had it, take precautions to avoid spreading it. That means not going back to work or school until three days after the symptoms have stopped. People should also avoid visiting places like hospitals and residential homes if they have had the bug or been in contact with it over the past three days.

"Alcohol gel is effective against bacteria but not all viruses. Therefore, we are recommending that, as a matter of routine, all visitors should also wash their hands with hot water and soap when visiting our wards, and we would be very grateful if more visitors could follow that guidance."

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Health chiefs say the Norovirus bug (also known as gastroenteritis) causes nausea and diarrhoea and is easily spread from person to person. The spread of infection is easiest in places where people are in close proximity for reasonable amounts of time, such as residential homes, schools, hospitals and workplaces.

The virus lasts around two days and no treatment is required.

However, even after the symptoms have cleared up, people may still carry the virus and infect others up to three days after their own symptoms have stopped.

Norfolk Primary Care Trust's director of public health, Dr John Battersby, said: "For the sake of patients and the wider community, all visitors can help the hospital by following the advice to stay away if they have been in contact with the tummy bug or have had it themselves within three days, and always clean their hands."