Warning over winter virus

Royal Lancaster Infirmary
Royal Lancaster Infirmary

Winter is on its way and members of the public are being warned to be on the lookout for symptoms of Norovirus and take sensible precautions in case you suffer a bout this winter.

Norovirus is also called ‘winter vomiting disease’ because it usually occurs during the winter months.

It usually start to appear during the autumn, peaking during January.

Norovirus is the most frequent cause of infectious gastroenteritis in England and Wales and typical symptoms are vomiting and diarrhoea.

People suffering will feel very unwell initially but will usually improve quickly as the symptoms settle.

“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,” said Sian Beard, Matron for Infection Prevention.

“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.”

Norovirus, because of its highly contagious nature, can quickly spread through a hospital and the only way to combat it once it gets into a hospital environment is to close wards to admissions, restrict visiting and wait for the outbreak to run its course.

This can be highly disruptive to patients in those and other wards.

On some rare occasions it may lead to patients having surgery or other procedures cancelled.

The NHS Choices website (www.nhs.uk) can provide further advice.

People suffering do not usually need to consult their GP unless symptoms are very bad or continue beyond 48 hours as there is no specific treatment for Norovirus.