Dorset Hospitals Warning Over Norovirus

Dorset hospitals are asking people not to visit patients if they have suffered any diarrhoea or vomiting symptoms in the last 72 hours following an increase in sickness bugs in the local community.

The NHS says stomach bugs that cause diarrhoea or vomiting such as Norovirus are highly contagious, and can spread rapidly through schools, colleges and hospitals.

Because patients in hospital are vulnerable to infection, it is therefore essential that visitors play their part in stopping the spread of bugs by staying away if they have been ill.

Denise Richards, Matron for Infection Prevention & Control at Poole Hospital said:

“We fully understand how hard it is to keep away when a close friend or relative is ill in hospital. However, if you do visit and bring in a sickness bug with you, you risk passing it on to them as well as others around them.

"Even if you feel well, you could still be contagious, so it’s vital that you help us to look after your loved ones by holding off your visit until you have been symptom-free for 72 hours.”

Trish Turton, Infection Control Nurse at the Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals, said:

“If you are unwell or have any symptoms of diarrhoea or nausea and vomiting we urge you to stay away from visiting the hospital until you have completely recovered.

“We want to drive the spread of infectious diseases down to as close to zero as possible in our Trust.

Excellent hand hygiene by staff, patients and visitors is particularly important in controlling the spread of infection. Washing your hands regularly, and especially after using the toilet and before preparing food, is the best way for all of us to help prevent the spread of infection, in hospital and in the community.”

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Norovirus: The Winter Sickness Bug

1.      Norovirus is the most common cause of infectious diarrhoea and vomiting in England.

2.      The virus is highly contagious and spreads rapidly anywhere that people are gathered, including schools, offices, hotels and hospitals.

3.      Norovirus is not a so-called ‘superbug’ like MRSA (which is a bloodborne infection) or Clostridium Difficile (which is mostly linked to antibiotic use).

4.      The virus is usually mild, and people generally recover within 2-3 days. However, it can have a much more
serious affect on vulnerable hospital patients.

5.      If you have had Norovirus, you will remain contagious for up to 72 hours after your last episode of diarrhoea or vomiting, and in some cases even longer. That is why it is vital that you do not visit people in hospital if you have been ill in the last three days. Remember, too, to always wash your hands well with soap and water after using the toilet.

The elderly and very young can sometimes get more severe infection or become dehydrated. If that should be the case,
they or their family, friends or carers should telephone their GP service or NHS Direct for advice on 0845 46 47 or
www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk .

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