Norovirus is currently circulating in Somerset with several wards in Yeovil and Taunton hospitals on restricted access to prevent further spread.
It is present in the community all year round, but outbreaks tend to be more frequent during the winter months.
Norovirus is a highly infectious bug and although the symptoms are short-lived they can be very unpleasant. The main symptoms are projectile vomiting and/or diarrhoea, but can also include nausea, stomach pain, headache and aching muscles, and usually last for 24-48 hours.
Trudi Grant, Director of Public Health for Somerset, is asking everyone to avoid spreading this disease. She said:
“As everyone knows, the NHS is under great pressure this winter, especially the hospitals. If you experience the symptoms of Norovirus please stay at home and do not go to your GP or hospital for at least 48 hours after the symptoms stop. There is nothing your GP can do while you have the symptoms – just keep yourself hydrated by drinking plenty of water.”
The virus is highly infectious and easily spread from person to person in several ways, but particularly through contaminated hands, food or water.
Trudi added: “Good hygiene is also very important, so make sure you wash hands with soap and water, and disinfect potentially contaminated surfaces such as taps and flush handles using a bleach-based product.”
Norovirus can affect anyone, and can close hospital wards, nursing homes and schools. People who have experienced the symptoms should not visit nursing homes and hospitals for at least two days after symptoms stop.
NHS Choices (www.nhs.uk) offers the following advice if you have Norovirus to help ease your symptoms, and help prevent the virus spreading:
- drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration
- take paracetamol for any fever or aches and pains
- if you feel like eating, eat foods that are easy to digest
- stay at home – don’t go to see your GP because norovirus is contagious and there’s nothing your GP can do while you have it
- contact your GP to seek advice if your symptoms last longer than a few days or if you already have a serious illness
- to help prevent the virus spreading wash your hands frequently, don’t share towels and flannels and disinfect surfaces that an infected person has touched
Extra care should be taken to prevent babies and small children who have diarrhoea and vomiting from dehydrating by giving them plenty of fluids. Babies and young children can still drink milk.
Cllr Christine Lawrence, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said:
“We all need to help our hospitals at this time. Norovirus is already affecting them and impacting on health care. Please stay at home while you recover from this unpleasant but short-lived illness and help stop the spread.”