Somerset residents are being urged to play their part in preventing the spread of the Norovirus sickness bug.
The bug, which causes vomiting and diarrhoea, is currently circulating in Somerset. It can lead to hospital wards being closed – as is currently the case at Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton – and put increased pressure on NHS services.
Good hygiene and thorough hand-washing can help prevent its spread and everyone, especially schools, care homes, restaurants and hotels are being asked to make sure they play their part.
Trudi Grant, Director of Public Health for Somerset, said: “If you experience the symptoms of Norovirus please stay at home, for at least 48 hours after the symptoms stop. If you need to talk to a health professional please dial NHS 111. Keep yourself hydrated by drinking plenty of water.”
“The virus is highly infectious and easily spread from person to person in several ways, but particularly through contaminated hands, food or water.
“Good hygiene is also very important, so make sure you wash hands with soap and water, and disinfect potentially contaminated surfaces such as taps and flush handles using a bleach-based product.”
Norovirus is a highly infectious bug and although the symptoms are short-lived they can be very unpleasant. The main symptoms are projectile vomiting and/or diarrhoea, but can also include nausea, stomach pain, headache and aching muscles, and usually last for 24-48 hours.
Norovirus can affect anyone, and can close hospital wards, nursing homes and schools. People who have experienced the symptoms should not visit nursing homes and hospitals for at least two days after symptoms stop.
NHS Choices (www.nhs.uk) has advice if you have Norovirus to help ease your symptoms and prevent the virus spreading. Extra care should be taken to prevent babies and small children who have diarrhoea and vomiting from dehydrating by giving them plenty of fluids. Babies and young children can still drink milk.
Cllr Christine Lawrence, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: “By taking a little extra care at home, work or school, we can all help ourselves stay healthy and limit the spread of the virus.
“It’s a very unpleasant virus, particularly for vulnerable people, children and the elderly. Anything people can do to control its spread through our communities will help us all stay well and ease the pressure on our NHS colleagues in hospitals and GP surgeries.”