HOSPITALS and nursing homes struggling with a huge upsurge in the winter vomiting bug have appealed to the public to restrict visits.
About 50 cases of the bug a week are reported normally but recently the country’s disease watchdog was officially notified of 190 people being laid low.
The real numbers who are struck by the highly infectious bug which causes severe vomiting and diarrhoea run are much higher.
The outbreak has also hit residents in hotels ,Dr Paul McKeown of the Health Protection Surveillance Centre said today.
“Members of the public can help stop the spread of illness by respecting hospital and nursing home visitor restrictions and by using the alcohol gel supplied as they enter and leave the facilities.
“While outpatient departments and emergency departments are not affected, patients are asked not to attend hospital if they have been affected by vomiting and/or diarrhoea in the last 48 hours.
“ Handwashing with soap and water - especially after contact with someone who is ill and after using the toilet - is also extremely important, particularly if you are or have been sick.
“When it gets into hospitals or nursing homes, it can cause serious disruption, for example ward closures, cancelled operations and added pressure on emergency departments. It is important that ill and vulnerable patients in these settings do not become more ill than they already are,” he pointed out.
It does not usually cause serious illness but it is easily spread and the main symptoms are nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea. People who are affected can suddenly suffer nausea, followed by projectile vomiting.
The advice is:
- Wash your hands regularly after using the toilet and when touching food
- If someone vomits at home, use hot water and detergent to clean up any soiling and wash your hands thoroughly after
- If you are sick you should remain off work until you have been well for 48 hours
- There is no specific treatment for norovirus apart from sipping plenty of clear fluids such as water or flat lemonade.