Protect yourself against norovirus

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WINTER vomiting bug norovirus is making its presence felt in hospitals nationwide and Milton Keynes Hospital is offering advice on how to prevent catching the unpleasant illness.

The norovirus is a group of viruses that are the most common cause of stomach bugs in England and Wales but steps can be taken to prevent and manage the illness and limit the potential impact on our emergency services.

Outbreaks of the illness are common, particularly in contained environments such as schools, hospitals and nursing homes, as the norovirus spreads easily and can survive for several days.

Symptoms include a sudden onset of nausea and vomiting, 12 to 48 hours after being infected, along with other ailments including fever, headaches and aching limbs.

Most people make a full recovery within one to two days and although an unpleasant experience, the virus is not generally dangerous.

There is no cure for norovirus but observing the basic rules of good hygiene can help to prevent it spreading.

Using antiseptic hand gel and avoiding visiting hospital if you have symptoms of the norovirus are key.

Dr Nicola Smith, Chair of Milton Keynes CCG, said: “If you contract the virus there is no need to visit your doctor, as there is nothing they can do and this will spread the infection.

“Stay at home and drink plenty of water, ensure babies and small children stay well hydrated and have wet nappies.

“Take paracetamol for fever, aches and pains, and practice good hygiene.”

People are advised to contact their GP if symptoms last longer than a few days or if they have an existing serious illness.

Staying in quarantine for 48 hours after symptoms subside will also minimise further spread of the virus.

Angie Legate, Milton Keynes Hospitals assistant director for infection control, adds: “Norovirus spreads very easily, especially during the winter months.

“While it presents short-term, unpleasant symptoms for most people, the bug can make our patients, especially those who are elderly and have other conditions, very ill indeed.

“That’s why we ask anyone with diarrhoea and vomiting symptoms to stay at home and call your GP or NHS Direct if you are worried.

“It’s also important to remember to stay away from the hospital for 48 hours after the symptoms have gone, even if you’re only visiting friends or relatives.”

> For further information and advice on the ‘winter vomiting bug’, visit http://www.miltonkeynesccg.nhs.uk/norovirus/ , call your GP or contact NHS Direct on 0845 46 78. For GP Out of Hours, please contact the Miilton Keynes Urgent Care Centre on 01908 201022.