As the dreaded norovirus bug sweeps through communities in other parts of the country, health chiefs have today issued advice to people in Milton Keynes.
They are warning elderly and vulnerable people to take extra care and are urging those suffering with the bug to stay at home for two days AFTER sympoms have stopped.
Norovirus, also known as the winter vomiting bug, can last for up to five days or more and is highly contagious.
For most people the condition is an unpleasant experience which requires plenty of fluids and rest. However, for people who are already ill or vulnerable, such as the elderly, very young, those in hospital or those with long term conditions, it can have a much greater impact, say doctors.
Dr Nicola Smith, GP and chair of NHS Milton Keynes Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “Most people make a full recovery within one or two days from the norovirus – but this is not the case for everyone. For patients already ill in hospital or those with long term conditions, this virus can cause further health complications.
"It is vital, therefore, to prevent the spread of the condition to help protect ourselves and protect others.”
The symptoms of norovirus begin around 12 to 72 hours after the patient picks up the infection and can usually last for 12 to 60 hours, but sometimes longer.
Most people start with feeling nauseous, often followed by being sick. Many patients will also get watery diarrhoea, a raised temperature, headaches and aching limbs or flu-ike symptoms.
Dr Smith said: "Public places like hospitals, schools and offices are susceptible to outbreaks and people should stay at home until they are free of the symptoms. As it is a virus, it cannot be treated with antibiotics."
She said people can help prevent the spread of norovirus by staying off work or school until at least 48 hours after the symptoms have passed.
Sufferers should wash their hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water., making sure they ake the time to dry them properly. They should not share towels or flannels with others and any surfaces or objects that could be contaminated should be thoroughly disinfected
.Items of clothing or bedding that could have become contaminated should be washed separately on a hot wash to ensure the virus is killed.
Most importantly, anyone suffering from norovirus should avoid visiting loved ones in hospital.
The CCG is advising people to visit their pharmacist for advice on remedies to help them feel better.
For more information on staying well this winter visi thttp://www.nhs.uk/staywell