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Protect yourself and others from the misery of Norovirus this winter

Norovirus – the so-called winter vomiting bug – has arrived in Wales and ABMU is urging people to protect themselves and others.

It’s a deeply unpleasant virus that causes sickness and diarrhoea, and spreads very easily from one person to another.

Although upsetting for anyone, it can be particularly distressing for small children, elderly people and those with an existing illness.

Those in hospital may be especially vulnerable and it’s sometimes necessary to stop admitting patients to wards and stop visiting when cases of Norovirus are suspected or diagnosed.

The incubation period is anything from 24 hours to three days, and symptoms usually last 12-60 hours.

ABMU has produced a new video which explains what people can do to help protect themselves and others from the virus.

Delyth Davies, Head of Nursing for Infection Prevention and Control, said:

“This is the time of year when Norovirus incidence may increase, and it is possible members of the same household could be affected.

“Symptoms usually start suddenly and include nausea, diarrhoea and vomiting. Some people also may experience a high temperature, headache and general aches and pains.

“There are, however, things we can all do to help stop the spread of the virus at home, in schools, in the community and hospitals.”

In the video, Infection Prevention and Control Matron Joanne Walters said some people believed hand sanitisers would protect them.

Unfortunately, though, these were not effective against all the viruses that cause diarrhoea and vomiting.

Instead, she said, people should wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water, and dry them carefully afterwards.

Joanne added:

“Wash your handsafter you have touched shopping trolleys, TV remote controls, your mobile phone, light switches, door handles.

“Don’t share towels with people in your own household.

“While you are unwell and having symptoms, you will be a source of infection to others.

“So it’s important to practise good hand hygiene, particularly after you have visited the toilet, or you have been unwell with symptoms, and always before you eat or drink.

“It’s also important to make sure that you clean surfaces frequently, and make sure that you leave them dry.

“Dispose of the cloth that you have used so that you’re not then transmitting the infection to other surfaces.”

Also, if you are looking after someone with diarrhoea and/or vomiting, carefully disinfect toilet seats, toilet flush handles, wash-hand basin taps and toilet door handles daily and after use.

Army of volunteers help hospital frontline scrub up

Use a bleach-based household cleaner, diluted according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Antibiotics have no effect on Norovirus and there is no medication to treat it – the illness needs to run its course.

The key to managing it at home is through maintaining hydration, which can usually be achieved through taking regular sips of fluid.

If you are worried about worsening dehydration, or any other symptoms of Norovirus, contact your doctor for advice. Or you can call 111 for 24/7 urgent care advice and to access the out-of-hours GP service.

People usually get over Norovirus within two or three days, but remain infectious for 48 hours, and even up to 72 hours after symptoms stop.

During this time they should avoid public places, including work, schools, shops – and, importantly, hospitals.

Assistant Director of Nursing for Infection Prevention and Control, Lisa Hinton, said: “Every year many patients with diarrhoea and vomiting arrive as emergencies at our hospitals.

“But even though their symptoms might be very unpleasant, most don’t actually need to be admitted to hospital.

“In fact, coming into hospital with diarrhoea and vomiting – which could be managed at home – puts other patients who are already poorly at risk of additional infection.

“It also places staff at unnecessary risk of catching it.”