The vulnerable and those with long-term health conditions in Cumbria should take extra care this winter to avoid norovirus, also known as the winter vomiting bug.
For most people the condition is an unpleasant experience which requires plenty of fluids and rest. However, for people who are already ill or vulnerable, such as the elderly, very young, those in hospital or those with long term conditions, it can have a much greater impact.
Dr Sarah Arun, Barrow GP and GP Executive Lead for Planned Care and Cardiovascular Health for Morecambe Bay Clinical Commissioning Group said: “Most people make a full recovery within one or two days from norovirus – but this is not the case for everyone.
“For patients already ill in hospital or those with long term conditions, this virus can cause further health complications. It is vital, therefore, to prevent the spread of the condition to help protect ourselves and protect others.”
The symptoms of norovirus begin around 12 to 72 hours after the patient picks up the infection and can usually last for 12 to 60 hours, but sometimes longer.
Most people start with feeling nauseous, often followed by being sick. Many patients will also get watery diarrhoea, a raised temperature, headaches and aching limbs or flu like symptoms.
Public places like hospitals, schools and offices are susceptible to outbreaks and people should stay at home until they are free of the symptoms. As it is a virus, it cannot be treated with antibiotics.
There are some simple steps to prevent the spread of norovirus;
- Stay off work or school until at least 48 hours after the symptoms have passed
- Don’t visit loved ones in hospital – you risk passing on the condition to someone whose health is already compromised. They may not be able to deal with the symptoms as well as you
- Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water. And make sure you take the time to dry them properly. Wet hands can harbour germs
- Disinfect any surfaces or objects that could be contaminated and don’t share towels and flannels
- Wash any items of clothing or bedding that could have become contaminated separately on a hot wash to ensure the virus is killed.
If you do start to feel unwell with sickness and diarrhoea, a pharmacist can advise on remedies to make you feel better.
For more information on staying well this winter visit www.nhs.uk/staywell