CONSUMERS have been urged to wash fruit and vegetables before eating after scientists found that lettuce, raspberries and other fresh produce spread the winter vomiting bug.
Researchers in the Netherlands found water infected with norovirus, the winter vomiting bug, is being used to dilute fertilisers which are then sprayed on fruit and vegetables.
The study found that lettuce and soft berries such as raspberries, blueberries and strawberries are particularly susceptible as they are usually eaten raw.
Research into the link between norovirus and fruit and vegetables was led by Katharina Verhaelen of the Netherlands National Institute for Health and the Environment.
She said that when food is eaten raw and shortly after harvest, "the viruses present on the produce are likely to remain infectious until consumption".
There were 487 confirmed cases of the winter vomiting bug in Ireland in the first eight weeks of the year, the Health Protection Surveillance Centre said. This was up by almost a third from the same period last year.
The Midlands Regional Hospital in Tullamore, Co Offaly, is asking people to avoid non-essential visits to the hospital where a small number of cases of winter vomiting bug have been confirmed.
The HSE is allowing only one visitor per patient, and children are not allowed. Infection control procedures will be in place until further notice.
Anyone who has experienced nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea within the previous 48 hours should not visit the hospital.