With the weather getting colder, we can expect to see winter illnesses coming to the fore,such as diarrhoea and vomiting, which is often caused by norovirus.
Such infections are highly contagious so contact with other people should be minimised to avoid rapid spread.
So, Luton and Dunstable University Hospital (L&D) is asking anyone planning to visit its hospitals to stay away if they or their family members have had diarrhoea, vomiting or ‘flu-like’ symptoms in the last four days.
This will help keep the ‘winter vomiting bug’ or norovirus away from vulnerable patients and staff who could pass it on. Symptoms of norovirus include diarrhoea and vomiting and, just like flu, the virus can seriously affect vulnerable patients.
Chief Nurse at the L&D, Pat Reid, said: “People want to see friends and relatives in hospital as often as they can. However, by visiting while they’re ill with a stomach bug, they can easily bring the virus into hospital. This can be particularly serious for people who are already ill or who have a long-term condition.”
Norovirus is highly contagious and can spread rapidly anywhere that people are gathered, such as schools or offices, especially during colder months.
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:
> Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and warm water, particularly after using the toilet, and before preparing food. If you’re in the L&D, pay attention to hand hygiene notices such as using hand sanitizer upon entering and leaving a ward. Washing your hands with soap and water in between is better at preventing the spread of norovirus than sanitizer alone.
> Disinfect any surfaces or objects that could be contaminated with norovirus. It is best to use a bleach-based household cleaner.
> 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 a norovirus.
Pat Reid added: “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.
>For more information and advice about winter illnesses, visit www.nhs.uk/staywell
Visit the hospital website www.ldh.nhs.uk for more information about hospital services.