As winter draws closer, Morecambe Bay health bosses are warning people to be wary of the symptoms of Norovirus.
Cases of the vomiting disease start to appear in autumn, peaking in January.
University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust has urged the public to take sensible precautions if they hiy by the illness.
Sian Beard, matron for infection prevention at the trust, said: “If someone suspects they have Norovirus they should ensure they do not visit hospitals, schools or care homes to reduce the risk of them passing it on to others.
“They should also avoid work – and only return after they have been free of diarrhoea and vomiting for at least 48 hours – during this time infectious viruses may still be present.”
The highly contagious disease can quickly spread through hospitals and the only way to combat it is to close wards to admissions, restrict visiting and wait for the outbreak to run its course.
The trust said this can be ‘highly disruptive’ to patients and on rare occasions it may lead to patients having surgery or other procedures cancelled.
Mary Moore, acting chief nurse for the trust, said: “It is likely that people in the Morecambe Bay communities will be affected by Norovirus during the coming winter – and we would ask people to follow our advice to minimise its effects on themselves, their families and other people.
“If hospital patients are affected by Norovirus this winter it is likely that efforts to tackle it will include imposing visiting restrictions with no notice and closing wards to admissions.
“We will try to keep these inconveniences to a minimum, and apologise for the effects in advance.
“By following our advice the effects of Norovirus in our hospitals and the wider community will be minimised.”
Norovirus is the most frequent cause of infectious gastroenteritis in England and Wales and typical symptoms are vomiting and diarrhoea.
People suffering will initially feel very unwell but improve quickly as the symptoms settle.