Health bosses are urging potential visitors to stay well away from Northampton General Hospital if they or their family members have had diarrhoea, vomiting or ‘flu-like’ symptoms in the last four days.
The signs are likely to be a result of an extremely-contagious norovirus, sometimes known as winter vomiting, that can wreak havoc in confined wards of frail patients.
Suzie Loader, NGH’s director of nursing and infection prevention, said: “We usually see higher levels of norovirus in autumn and winter, and it’s really important to make sure that we protect vulnerable patients and hospital staff.
“This is why we’re asking everyone considering visiting a friend or relative in hospital to think carefully about whether they need to come if they have experienced diarrhoea, vomiting or flu-like symptoms in the last four days.
“We know 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.”
Good hand hygiene can help to limit the spread of the infection and there are simple steps people can take to help stop a Norovirus spreading:
-Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and warm water, particularly after using the toilet, and before preparing food.
-Disinfect any surfaces or objects that could be contaminated with a norovirus. It is best to use a bleach-based household cleaner.
-Flush away infected faeces or vomit in the toilet. You should also keep the surrounding toilet area clean and hygienic.
-Wash any clothing, or linens that could have become contaminated with a norovirus. Washing with hot, soapy water will help to ensure that the virus is killed.
NHS bosses said although people usually recover without treatment in 24 to 72 hours, it is important to stay away from work, school, college or social gatherings until you have been free of symptoms for at least 48 hours.
If you have a norovirus, the advice is to rest and take plenty of non-caffeinated drinks to avoid dehydration.
Anyone worried about prolonged symptoms, can contact NHS Direct on www.nhs.uk, or 0845 4647, or call their GP.
There are many types of norovirus and it is possible for infection to occur several times. This is because after getting the illness, immunity to the virus only lasts for 14 weeks.
For more information about norovirus visit: www.hpa.org.uk/Topics/InfectiousDiseases/InfectionsAZ/Norovirus/
For more information on winter health, visit the NHS Choices website at: www.nhs.uk