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Help stop the spread of Norovirus this Winter

Dudley CCG is encouraging everyone, particularly children and those visiting hospitals and care homes, to do what they can to help stop the spread of norovirus this winter.

Norovirus, sometimes known as the ‘winter vomiting bug’, is the most common stomach bug in the UK, affecting people of all ages.

It is highly contagious and is spread by contact with contaminated surfaces, an infected person, or consumption of contaminated food or water.

People with the infection may suddenly feel sick, have projectile vomiting and develop diarrhoea. You may also have stomach cramps and a mild fever. These symptoms usually last between 24 to 48 hours.

There is no specific treatment for norovirus, but there are things you can do to ease the symptoms.

  • Stay at home and get plenty of rest. You should stay at home for 48 hours after your symptoms have stopped, as you can still spread the infection.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration, but avoid fizzy drinks or fruit juice in children, as these can make symptoms worse. If you are concerned you or someone with the infection is dehydrated, you can speak to your pharmacist about special rehydration drinks made from sachets.
  • For general aches and pains, take paracetamol.
  • If you feel like eating, eat plain foods such as soup, rice, pasta and bread.

If symptoms persist or you are concerned, telephone NHS 111 or your GP for advice. Do not your local hospital or Urgent Care Centre unless it is an absolute emergency.

Dr Steve Mann, GP and Clinical Lead at Dudley CCG said: “There is no cure for norovirus, you have to let it run its course. But there are things you can do to prevent it from spreading to others.

Germs can live on some surfaces for hours, meaning they can be easily transferred to others. Adopting good hand hygiene reduces the risk of spread, which is particularly important when we’re visiting friends or relatives in hospital; the elderly at their home or when we’re around very young children. If you see signs asking you to clean your hands before you enter a ward please do so.  But getting into the routine of good hand hygiene will help all year round, not just for winter.”

The best way to wash hands is with soap and warm water, paying attention to fingers, thumbs, under nails and wrists.  Drying hands properly is just as important, as damp hands can harbour germs.

It’s important that we do all we can to try and protect vulnerable patients in our hospitals, particularly those who may have impaired immunity, as well as those in the community so they don’t end up being unwell.  If you think you may have norovirus, do not visit friends or family in hospital or residential care, and keep children away from schools and nurseries.

Good hygiene means:

  • Wash hands with soap and warm water. This will remove the majority of germs, preventing spread to other people.  Studies show that hand-washing techniques are often poor and the most commonly neglected areas are the tips of the fingers, palm of the hand, and the thumb.
  • Use alcohol hand rub if you are visiting someone in hospital. This should be rubbed into all areas of the hands, again paying attention to the thumbs, fingertips, between the fingers and the backs of the hands until the hands feel dry.  But it’s important to know this won’t help with norovirus – soap and water is best. 

Dr Mann added:  “Following these simple steps makes a huge difference in preventing the spread of norovirus to patients and the public.  It’s such an easy thing to do but it will ensure that people stay well this winter.”

 

For more information about winter illness, visit www.nhs.uk/staywell

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