Norovirus - the winter vomiting bug
In November 2011, in partnership with NHS Gloucestershire, we launched a county-wide campaign to help stop the spread of norovirus, protect patients and support NHS services.
Under the banner of ‘Combat Norovirus – the Winter vomiting bug’ the high visibility campaign was profiled at GRH, CGH, Community Hospitals and GP surgeries. Huge banners carrying the key campaign messages were put up at 25 locations across our two main hospitals. Posters, information cards and leaflets were available at healthcare facilities county-wide.
What is Norovirus?
Norovirus is the most common cause of infectious gastroenteritis (stomach bugs) in England and Wales and can affect people of any age.
Whilst this condition, sometimes called the ‘winter vomiting’ bug, 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.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of a norovirus infection begin around 12 to 72 hours after the individual picks up the infection. Symptoms usually last for 12 to 60 hours, but sometimes longer.
They start with feeling sick (neusea) often followed by vomiting is frequently projectile. Many patients will also get watery diarrhoea. Some people will have a raised temperature, headaches and aching limbs (‘flu-like’ symptoms).
Most people make a full recovery within several days, but some people (usually the young or elderly) may become dehydrated and require medical treatment.
How does norovirus spread?
It is very contagious, is spread mainly from person-to-person and occasionally through food preparation and is more likely to spread where people are in close proximity.
Public places like hospitals and care homes are susceptible to outbreaks and may result in ward closures and restricted visiting.
What can I do to help stop the spread of infection?
We want to help stop the spread of infection to protect vulnerable patients in hospital and ensure the NHS is able to manage services effectively over the winter period.
Healthcare staff are vulnerable too – doctors and nurses cannot care for patients if they become poorly.
- Do not visit health care facilities, like hospitals, if you have had diarrhoea and/or vomiting until 72 hours after symptoms have stopped (even if these were mild symptoms). There is a real risk that you could introduce the infection into the area you are visiting
- Do not visit friends or relatives in hospital if you have recently (within the last 3 days) been in contact with anyone who has diarrhoea and/or vomiting
- Always wash your hands frequently with warm water and soap. You should always do this after using the toilet and before preparing food. This is good practice whether or not you have symptoms
- Do not handle or prepare food for other people until you have been free of symptoms for a minimum of 72 hours
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