It is that time of the year when norovirus - commonly known as winter vomiting disease – is rife and hospitals and nursing homes in Lancashire have been hit with the virus. AASMA DAY finds out more.
IT has shut down schools, forced cruise ships to dock early and closed oil rigs in its most major outbreaks and those affected by norovirus know how unpleasant the illness can be.
Health chiefs have revealed that two nursing homes in the Preston area have been struck by outbreaks of the winter bug and hospital bosses at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary have confirmed 10 patients are suffering from norovirus.
Experts are warning people suffering from symptoms of the highly contagious disease to avoid hospitals and other public places to avoid the spread of the illness.
Dr John Astbury, consultant in health protection for the Public Health England Centre for Cumbria and Lancashire, says: “Norovirus is not specific to hospitals and nursing homes but is a community illness that is rife at this time of the year.
“Norovirus is usually a shortlived illness, but it is very unpleasant and can make people feel very poorly with diarrhoea and vomiting.
“Anyone who suffers the symptoms of Norovirus, we advise to stay off work for 48 hours after they have been free of diarrhoea and vomiting because it is highly infectious.
“When nursing homes and hotels have an outbreak of norovirus, we advise them to carry out a deep clean afterwards as the virus can sit on furniture and spread to the next people who come in.
“For most people norovirus usually only lasts 24 to 48 hours. Anyone who has it should try to keep their fluids up so they don’t get dehydrated.”
Hospital chiefs at Royal Lancaster Infirmary, which has been hit by norovirus are asking visitors and patients who have suffered symptons in the last 48 hours not to visit the hospital, unless their condition is life-threatening.
Even if they have been in contact with someone showing symptoms, they are advised to stay away.
Norovirus is the most frequent cause of infectious gastroenteritis in England and Wales and typical symptoms are vomiting and diarrhoea. Sufferers will feel very unwell initially but usually improve quickly as symptoms settle.
Norovirus, because of its highly contagious nature, can quickly spread through a hospital and the only way to combat it once it gets into a hospital environment is to close wards to admissions, restrict visiting and wait for the outbreak to run its course.
This can be disruptive to patients in those and other wards. On rare occasions it may lead to surgery or other procedures being cancelled.