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Public asked to help the fight against winter vomiting virus

21 December 2012

Health Care

Southend University Hospital is urging only essential visitors to attend the hospital in an attempt to prevent the spread of norovirus (also known as ‘winter vomiting disease’). The public is being asked not to come to wards, clinics or the hospital restaurant if they have an upset tummy or have been in contact with anyone suffering from one.

Following an outbreak of norovirus (also known as 'winter vomiting disease'), the hospital has had to close two wards (Stambridge and Westcliff) to new patients.

Sue Hardy, director of nursing, said: "We do realise that visitors want to come and see their loved ones, particularly at this time of year. But we would ask them give us their support in tackling the spread of this bug and only come if it is essential.

"If we get an outbreak, we have to close the affected ward to further admissions which can have a knock-on effect on the rest of the hospital at an exceptionally busy time of year. It can also mean our patients have to remain in hospital for longer than they may otherwise have needed to."

Ms Hardy added: "We know that this virus is brought into the hospital from the community and we always ask people who have had it - or been in contact with someone who has - to take precautions and not come into our hospital.

 "The best preventative measure for individuals is to wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after using the toilet and before eating."

Visitors are also being asked to adhere strictly to the rule of only two visitors per bedside, to use the hand gel in dispensers on all the wards, not to bring children under 12 years, not to sit on beds, not to eat or drink on the wards and not to visit more than one ward.

Ms Hardy said: "These are all measures which can help prevent the spread of infection and we thank the public for their cooperation and for their vigilance."

Norovirus, which affects hospitals, nursing and residential homes throughout the country at this time of year, spreads quickly and can still be passed on after symptoms have disappeared.

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 Norovirus factfile

  • Norovirus usually starts with the sudden onset of nausea followed by projectile vomiting and watery diarrhoea. Some people may also have a raised temperature, headaches and aching limbs
  • Symptoms begin around 12 to 48 hours after becoming infected
  • The illness is self-limiting and symptoms will last for between12 to 60 hours
  • Some people (usually the very young or elderly) may become very dehydrated and need hospital treatment
  • Although there is no specific treatment apart from letting the illness run its course, it is important to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration
  • Good hygiene is vital to prevent the spread of the virus - this includes thorough hand washing. Food preparation should also be avoided until three days after the last symptoms