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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

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Barrow hospital's trust warns public to be on guard against norovirus

The trust which runs Furness General Hospital in Barrow is issuing a reminder to members of the public to not visit any hospital if they have suffered from, or been in contact with someone who has suffered from diarrhoea or vomiting recently.

Seven patients on ward 34 at Royal Lancaster Infirmary are suffering from Norovirus, the winter vomiting disease, and visiting to the ward has been suspended, unless by prior arrangement with the ward manager.

Visitors and patients are reminded that if they have suffered symptoms in the past 48 hours, they should not visit the hospital, unless their condition is life-threatening.

Even if they have been in contact with someone showing symptoms, they are advised to stay away.

Norovirus is the most frequent cause of infectious gastroenteritis in England and Wales and typical symptoms are vomiting and diarrhoea. People suffering will feel very unwell initially but will usually improve quickly as the symptoms settle.

“If someone suspects they have Norovirus they should ensure they do not visit hospitals, schools or care homes to reduce the risk of them passing it on to others,” said Sue Smith, Executive Chief Nurse.

“They should also avoid work – and only return after they have been free of diarrhoea and vomiting for at least 48 hours– during this time infectious viruses may still be present.”

Norovirus, because of its highly contagious nature, can quickly spread through a hospital and the only way to combat it once it gets into a hospital environment is to close wards to admissions, restrict visiting and wait for the outbreak to run its course.

This can be highly disruptive to patients in those and other wards. On some rare occasions it may lead to patients having surgery or other procedures cancelled.

Sue continued: “We have confirmed the patients are affected by Norovirus– and we would ask people to follow our advice to minimise its effects on the hospital, themselves and their families.”

“While we have not yet imposed any visiting restrictions or closed wards to admissions, these are things we may have to consider if further patients are affected.

“We will try to keep these inconveniences to a minimum, and apologise for the effects in advance.”

The ward manager can be contacted on 01524 583434.

The NHS Choices website (www.nhs.uk) can provide further advice. People suffering do not usually need to consult their GP unless symptoms are very bad or continue beyond 48 hours as there is no specific treatment for Norovirus.

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