A ward at the Royal Northern Infirmary (RNI), Inverness has closed to new admissions and visitors are being asked to keep visiting to an absolute minimum while staff deal with several cases of diarrhoea and vomiting.
Ward 2 at the hospital, which was closed to new admissions today, has eight patients currently affected with symptoms of diarrhoea and vomiting. Although it has not been confirmed this is being treated as norovirus.
The virus, which causes diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting, spreads in the air where someone has had diarrhoea or vomited and is extremely infectious. It is important that everyone plays their part in reducing outbreak risks.
A ward at Nairn Town and County Hospital has also been closed to admissions as a precaution, following the development of diarrhoea and vomiting symptoms in two patients. Whilst investigations are undertaken visitors are being asked to keep visiting to an absolute minimum until further notice.
Dr Jonty Mills, Consultant Microbiologist for NHS Highland, said: “By restricting visiting to the affected area it helps hospital staff protect the health, privacy and dignity of our patients.
“We would also ask that people do not come to the hospital to visit if they have, or live with someone who has, had any vomiting or diarrhoea within the previous 48hrs. By doing this we will be able to limit the spread as much as possible.
“Hospital staff will of course be very happy to talk to visitors on the phone so they can get updates on how their relatives are.”
There is no specific treatment for a norovirus infection and it is not usually necessary to visit a doctor. The best course of action is to stay at home, take paracetamol to relieve symptoms of any fever and to drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration. People should also adhere to strict hand washing techniques to reduce the spread of the virus.
The public can help to minimise the spread by following some simple rules:-
• Do not visit a hospital if you or someone you live with has symptoms. If you have a hospital appointment, please get in touch and, where appropriate, your appointment can be rescheduled.
• Wait until you have been clear of symptoms for 48 hours, as you may still be contagious, even if you feel well.
• Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, especially after using the toilet and before eating.
• If you visit someone in hospital, don't sit on their bed and keep the number of visitors to a minimum at any one time. Never touch dressings, drips, or other equipment around the bed.
For more information about hand hygiene visit the Scottish National Hand Hygiene Campaign website www.washyourhandsofthem.com
Facts about norovirus:
• Norovirus occurs all year round, particularly every winter, in the community, and is unrelated to hospital cleanliness.
• There is no vaccine.
• The virus continually changes and people don’t develop lasting immunity, so you can catch it more than once in a season.
• Norovirus can survive for days on any surface – including exposed food and wrapped food items.
Advice to the public:
• Norovirus, commonly known as the winter vomiting bug, is a highly contagious virus which causes vomiting and/or diarrhoea.
• The first sign of norovirus is usually a sudden sick feeling, followed by forceful vomiting and watery diarrhoea.
• Symptoms usually last a couple of days, although this can be longer in elderly people.
• People are most likely to spread infection when they have symptoms and for up to 48 hours after your symptoms have gone.
• It is more serious and even more easily spread among people who are already ill.