Help prevent spread of winter vomiting disease

DO YOU know how to prevent winter vomiting disease? Or what to do if you get it?

Tuesday, 27th November 2012, 10:43 am

Bassetlaw Hospital staff are spreading the word on how to prevent the spread of norovirus this winter.

And they are starting by reminding visitors and patients not to visit hospital if they think they may have the infection.

It is nicknamed ‘winter vomiting disease’ because it is more common at this time of year, and symptoms tend to be severe nausea and sudden vomiting diarrhoea.

The virus can spread rapidly in closed environments such as hospitals, schools, nursing and residential homes. So anyone who thinks they have it should not attend A&E or hospital until they have been symptom-free for at least 48 hours.

If you think you have norovirus, you should take paracetamol and drink plenty to replace lost fluids and contact your GP for advice if necessary. Do not go to your doctor’s surgery or A&E.

There are also steps you can take to prevent catching the infection.

“Hand hygiene is the single most important thing that we can do to prevent the spread of infections,” says Maurice Madeo, deputy director of infection, prevention and control at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

“Norovirus is not in itself a serious illness but it can have extremely worrying consequences for hospitals.”

“An outbreak may mean we have to restrict admissions to hospital wards in order to contain the infection. That’s why it’s so important not to visit hospital until you have been symptom-free with no nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea for at least 48 hours.”

“If you visit hospital before then, you could still unwittingly pass your norovirus onto hospital patients and staff.”

Here are some signs to look for:

• The first sign of norovirus is usually a sudden sick feeling followed by forceful vomiting and watery diarrhoea. Some people may also have a raised temperature, headaches, stomach cramps and aching limbs.

• Symptoms usually appear one to two days after becoming infected but they can start sooner. Most people make a full recovery within a couple of days. The illness is not generally dangerous but it can be unpleasant while you have it.

• The main risk of norovirus is dehydration from losing water and salts from vomiting and diarrhoea. Dehydration is more of a risk in the very young and the elderly and it’s important to contact your doctor straight away if someone is becoming dehydrated.

• The first sign of dehydration is usually feeling thirsty. Other symptoms include dizziness or light-headedness, headache, tiredness, dry mouth, lips and eyes, dark urine and passing small amounts of urine (fewer than three or four times a day). The effects of dehydration are easily reversed by having plenty of non-alcoholic fluids to drink.