Reduce the spread of the winter vomiting bug

At this time of year there is an increase in the numbers of people who have Norovirus (winter vomiting bug ) in the community. To help curtail the spread of the winter vomiting bug, the West Public Health Department is appealing to the public to take precautions to protect their health and to adhere strictly to visiting restrictions and hygiene guidelines when visiting nursing homes, hospitals and health services.

Dr Emer O’Connell, HSE public health consultant, said, “Norovirus is a common cause of gastroenteritis; it does not usually cause serious illness, but it is very easily spread. People who contract it can be infectious for 48 hours after they recover.

“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. So please cooperate with your local hospital/ nursing home policy on visiting.”

To reduce the likelihood of spread of Norovirus it is important to remember the following:

If you have recently had vomiting / diarrhoea, do not visit a hospital or nursing home until you have been well for 48 hours.

If your child has had vomiting / diarrhoea, they should not go to school/crèche until they have been well for 48 hours.

To stop spread of Norovirus at home and in the community:

At home, wash your hands regularly with water after using the toilet and before eating or preparing 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. Also please do not prepare food for others until you have been well for three days.

Treatment; there is no specific treatment for Norovirus apart from sipping plenty of clear fluids such as water or flat lemonade.

Symptoms will usually last only a day or two but can, occasionally last longer. If you are concerned (e.g. prolonged vomiting/diarrhoea especially in small children and elderly people ), telephone your GP for advice to reduce the possibility of bringing Norovirus into the GP surgery.

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