Norovirus – sharing isn’t always caring

Posted on in Hospitals, The trust

Tees Valley’s biggest hospital trust is urging people with symptoms of norovirus not to visit hospitals to help prevent it from spreading.

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The condition, known as the winter vomiting bug, is the most common stomach bug in the UK, affecting people of all ages and is now beginning to circulate in the community.

Outbreaks of norovirus, which causes vomiting and/or diarrhoea, are common in busy places such as hospitals as the virus easily spreads from one person to another and can survive on surfaces for several days.

While it is an unpleasant experience, the infection tends to be short lived and most people will just need to drink plenty of fluids and take plenty of rest.

However, people who are already ill, such as patients in hospital, can sometimes get quite poorly as the illness can interfere with the effectiveness of the medicines they are taking and also make them weak and dehydrated. Now South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is urging people:

  • Not to visit friends or relatives if they have the bug, until they are fully recovered and have been free of symptoms for at least 48 hours.
  • To check with them about coming in for your hospital appointment if you have these symptoms.
  • Washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water and regularly at all times – particularly after using the toilet and before eating.
  • Staying clear of accident and emergency if you think you have the illness. Stay at home and drink plenty of fluids. If you are still ill after a few days contact your own GP or NHS 111.

Director of Nursing and Infection Prevention Control Gill Hunt said: “Norovirus outbreaks in busy places such as hospitals, nursing homes and schools are common because the virus spreads very easily from one person to another and, as we’d expect at this time of the year, it’s starting to circulate more in the community.

“Although norovirus can be an unpleasant experience it’s not generally dangerous and most people make a full recovery within a couple of days without having to see a doctor.

“However it is really important that people who have had the bug do not visit relatives in hospital if they are poorly and until they have been free of symptoms for 48 hours to avoid it spreading. The last thing we want to see happen is ward closures.

“Our message is if you are attending the hospital for an outpatient appointment or admission to a ward OR are you visiting a relative, friend and have any symptoms of diarrhoea and/or vomiting you should not be coming into hospital until you have been symptom free for 48 hours.”

The Trust has also launched a fun social media campaign featuring emojis to help get the message across https://youtu.be/JoWNEZr6nms

If you are unfortunate enough to fall ill there are lots of options to help get you get back on your feet again, ranging from pharmacists who offer free and quick advice to help treat symptoms at home, over the counter medicines which safe and effective, to GP surgeries and NHS 111. Please remember to keep A&E for serious and life-threatening emergencies only.