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Stay away from hospitals, norovirus sufferers told

Thursday 6th December 2012
More than 600,000 people have been affected by norovirus so far this year.
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People suffering from the winter vomiting bug norovirus have been told to stay away from hospitals to avoid spreading the disease.

Dr Bob Adak, head of the gastrointestinal department at the Health Protection Agency, said that friends or relatives should not be visited in hospital if they have symptoms of the conditions.

He warned that the knock-on effect could be ward closures and "severe disruption" to healthcare services, while vulnerable patients could also be put at risk.

"Norovirus is a short-lived unpleasant infection but most people will fully recover in a couple of days. It is important to remain hydrated as you will be losing a lot of fluids due to the symptoms. Over-the-counter medicines can also be useful in reducing headaches and other aches and pains," he added.

More than 600,000 people are believed to have suffered from norovirus so far this year. There were 2,313 confirmed cases recorded on December 2nd, which was up by 64 per cent compared to the same date last year.

"The norovirus season is always completely unpredictable as it peaks and falls over several months – usually October to April. However, one thing we do know is that every year we will see a large amount of norovirus activity because it is highly contagious."

Advice from the Health Protection Agency says that norovirus is a "self-limiting" infection which the body can recover from naturally without treatment, along with the help of plenty of fluid.

Sterile practices should be observed, such as washing hands after using the toilet and before eating.

The message has also been echoed by Amanda Howell, lead for infection prevention and control at the Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust. She told thisisleicestershire.co.uk: "Norovirus is spread easily and can survive in the environment for many days. In hospitals, norovirus increases the risk to patients who might already have other serious illnesses and it can lead to staff illness and even ward closures."

written by Martin Lambert

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