Don’t bring Norovirus into hospitals this winter

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Lincolnshire East Clinical Commissioning Group is asking anyone planning to visit friends or family in hospital to stay at home if they or their family members have had diarrhoea, vomiting or ‘flu-like’ symptoms in the last four days, all of which can be symptoms of Norovirus.

The request is to help keep ‘winter vomiting’ or norovirus away from vulnerable patients and staff who could pass it on. Symptoms of norovirus include diarrhoea and vomiting and it can seriously affect vulnerable patients.

Potentially exacerbated by colder weather, Norovirus can be particularly serious for people who are already ill or those who have a long term condition. Good hand hygiene can help to limit the spread of infection.

Contact your practice before attending the surgery or A&E to avoid an unnecessary visit, as you should recover naturally without any specific treatment.

Norovirus is highly infectious and easily spread through hand to hand contact, or by touching surfaces which have germs on them.

The infection usually starts suddenly and the symptoms pass quickly. It can more seriously affect those patients who are already unwell or those who have significant underlying medical conditions.

Winter vomiting is the term that has been used to cover the noroviruses, such as the Norwalk virus.

Transmission can occur through contact with an infected person, through contact with surfaces or objects that are contaminated with the virus, or by eating contaminated food or water.

As there is a 15-48 hour incubation period, it can be difficult to detect in the early stages before diarrhoea and vomiting actually starts. Typically, the illness can last between 12 to 60 hours.

There is also a 48 hour period following the last physical signs of symptoms where someone could still be infectious.

There are many types of norovirus, and it is possible for infection to occur several times. This is because after getting the illness immunity to the virus only lasts for 14 weeks.

For more information about norovirus, visit http://www.hpa.org.uk/Topics/InfectiousDiseases/InfectionsAZ/Norovirus/.

For more information on winter health, visit the NHS Choices website at http://www.nhs.uk/livewell/winterhealth/Pages/Winterhealthhome.aspx.