People suffering with the highly contagious norovirus stomach flu are being advised to stay away from hospitals and GP surgeries to prevent the illness spreading.
Staff at Leicester’s Hospitals are urging visitors not to go to hospital if they have the so-called “winter vomiting” bug to reduce the risk of passing germs on to patients and other vulnerable people.
Norovirus affects up to one million people in the UK every year and, according to national data from Public Health England, around 10,000 of those cases are seen across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.
It comes as an outbreak of the bug has been confirmed at a ward in Leicester Royal Infirimary.
Dr David Jenkins, a microbiologist at Leicester’s Hospitals, said: "Norovirus is highly contagious and can be picked up easily by ill and vulnerable people.
"We have confirmed cases on one of our wards at the Royal Infirmary and have taken extra measures to contain it and prevent wider spread across the hospital.”
“Norovirus can be a nasty experience for those affected but is normally a short-lived, self-limiting infection from which people will usually recover within 12 to 48 hours," said Dr Jenkins.
He added: "It’s really important that if you are ill or have been recently ill that you don’t visit friends or relatives in hospital until you have been free of symptoms for at least 48 hours."
To ensure people play their part in protecting healthcare services from the worst effects of norovirus infections and influenza, especially during the last of the winter months, Leicester’s Hospitals is sharing key tips for people with “winter vomiting” symptoms
- Do not visit your GP surgery or local A&E. Norovirus infection is a self-limiting illness and you will recover naturally without treatment. It is, however, important to drink plenty of water to replace lost fluids. If your symptoms persist, phone NHS 111 for advice.
- Do not visit friends or relatives in hospital or residential care homes as there is a real risk that you would introduce the infection to the establishment. Stay away until you have been free of symptoms for at least 48 hours.
- Do not send children to school or childcare settings until they have been free of symptoms for at least 48 hours.
- Wash hands thoroughly and regularly at all times, but particularly after toilet visits and before eating.
- Do not handle or prepare food for other people until you have been symptom free for a minimum period of 48 hours.
Dr Jenkins said: "In the vast majority of cases there is no benefit to someone with norovirus being in hospital. People with the condition should stay at home, ensure that their personal hygiene is good, particularly hand-washing, and avoid contact with others where possible.
“However, the elderly and very young can sometimes get more severe infection or become dehydrated. If that should be the case, they or their family, friends or carers, should telephone their GP service or NHS 111 for advice.”