Wards close due to norovirus
28 June 2010
Four wards at West Suffolk Hospital have closed to new admissions after several patients showed symptoms of norovirus.
A total of 20 patients in wards G3, G4, G5 and G8 have the symptoms of the highly contagious diarrhoea and vomiting virus. All four wards are now closed to new admissions and will remain shut until at least 72 hours after the patients have recovered.
Staff are taking steps to stop the illness from spreading, including carrying out enhanced cleaning in the affected areas and ensuring patients from the four wards are not transferred elsewhere in the hospital. Visitors who have shown symptoms of the virus have been urged to stay away.
Norovirus, which is often known as winter vomiting virus, affects hundreds of people in the community each year. Sufferers get bouts of diarrhoea and vomiting which last for one or two days, but may remain contagious even after they start feeling better.
Gwen Nuttall, chief operating officer at the hospital, said: “Norovirus is very infectious and every year there are cases in the community which transfer to the hospital. Because the virus has an incubation period of several days, people are often unaware that they are carrying it until after they have passed it on.
“We are managing the current cases using our stringent infection control policies and our cleaning staff have been working hard to make sure enhanced cleaning takes place on the affected wards.
“We would advise anyone who has had diarrhoea or vomiting to stay away from the hospital for at least 72 hours after they have recovered, even if they feel better. Otherwise they run the risk of unknowingly passing the highly contagious illness on to someone who is already sick.
“Anyone who visits the hospital should be vigilant and take care to clean their hands. If they are visiting the affected wards, they should use soap and water when they arrive and before they leave as the alcohol gel is not effective against this virus.”
Visiting on the affected wards is being restricted to evenings, between 7pm and 8pm, while children under the age of 12 have been urged to stay away.
Anyone suffering from norovirus should stay at home, drink plenty of water and take paracetamol tablets to relieve a temperature. People with the virus need to come into hospital if they are very young, very old or frail or are having problems with dehydration.