Cumbria issued with RED ALERT for Norovirus

Cumbria issued with RED ALERT for Norovirus
David Walker

David Walker

Due to the increasing number of outbreaks of Norovirus – the ‘Winter vomiting bug’, Cumbria County Council has taken the decision to issue a red trigger level for Norovirus throughout Cumbria as set out in the Cumbria Health and Social Care Norovirus Escalation Strategy.

This trigger is launched when there are a high number of Norovirus cases in the community and hospitals and other providers of inpatient care have outbreaks of Norovirus resulting in one or more ward closures.

As a result of the decision, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) is once again asking for the public’s help in reducing the number of cases of the virus within its hospitals.

Angela Coton, Matron for Infection Prevention and Control at UHMBT, said: “Norovirus is a common cause for diarrhoea and /or vomiting and is often referred to as the ‘winter vomiting bug’ because it has, historically, been more common in winter, although it can circulate throughout the year.

“We are experiencing more and more people attending our hospitals with Norovirus symptoms which has resulted in staff and other patients becoming ill with the virus themselves.

“Whilst visiting is still an option, we are asking friends and relatives visiting their loved ones not to:

  • Visit any hospital or clinic if you have suffered symptoms of diarrhoea or vomiting within the last 48 hours
  • Visit with young children
  • Bring food in for loved ones
  • Have more than two visitors at each bed
  • Visit communal areas within the hospital.
  • Please remember to wash your hands on entrance to and exit from all ward and department areas.”

Colin Cox, Director of Public Health at Cumbria County Council said: “While for most people norovirus is unpleasant but short-lived, it is important to try to stop it spreading in order to protect those who are more vulnerable, including frail older people and those who are already in hospital for other reasons.

“So in most cases if you are experiencing norovirus symptoms it is best to stay at home and look after yourself until you have been clear of symptoms for 48 hours.”

David Walker, Medical Director at UHMBT added; “Whilst we understand that the virus can make you feel dreadful, you only need to seek medical advice if you have signs of dehydration such as persistent dizziness, only passing small amounts of urine or no urine at all or reduced consciousness; if you have bloody diarrhoea; if you or your child have a serious underlying condition, such as kidney disease, or if your symptoms haven’t started to improve after a few days.

“By not attending hospitals with Norovirus symptoms, you will help us to keep our staff and patients free of the virus.”

To help ease symptoms of norovirus:

  • Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. You need to drink more than usual to replace the fluids lost from vomiting and diarrhoea – as well as water, adults could also try fruit juice and soup. Avoid giving fizzy drinks or fruit juice to children as it can make their diarrhoea worse. Babies should continue to feed as usual, either with breast milk or other milk feeds
  • Take paracetamol for any fever or aches and pains
  • Get plenty of rest
  • If you feel like eating, eat plain foods, such as soup, rice, pasta and bread
  • Use special rehydration drinks made from sachets bought from pharmacies if you have signs of dehydration, such as a dry mouth or dark urine – read more about treating dehydration

More information on norovirus can be found at: NHS Choices –http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Norovirus/Pages/Introduction.aspx#whattodo