ADVICE: Stop the spread of the potentially deadly winter vomiting disease Norovirus

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As the first blast of winter arrives this weekend, here’s some top tips for keeping warm and well, and advice how to prevent the spread of norovirus.

Staff at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals are saying NO to norovirus this winter by urging patients and visitors to stay away if they have diarrhoea or vomiting.

Nicknamed the ‘winter vomiting disease’ norovirus becomes more active during the winter months. It can spread quickly in close-knit areas like hospitals, schools, nursing and residential homes.

That is why hospital staff are reminding anyone who has nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea not to visit hospital until they have been completely symptom-free for at least 48 hours. If they visit before then, it could mean that they unwittingly pass their norovirus onto hospital patients and staff.

Maurice Madeo, Deputy Director of Infection, Prevention & Control at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “October usually marks the start of the norovirus season. This infection can have extremely worrying consequences for patients already ill in hospital. That’s why it is so important not to visit until you have been symptom-free for at least a couple of days. An outbreak may mean we have to restrict admissions and visitors to wards to contain the virus.”

Although very unpleasant, norovirus usually clears up in one or two days and most people can care for themselves with paracetamol and plenty of fluids. Symptoms include the sudden onset of projectile vomiting, watery diarrhoea, and some people may also experience headaches, mild temperature and stomach cramps. Mrs Mary Robson, 72, from Auckley, had norovirus last year and although very poorly she managed the condition at home.

Mary said: “It came on suddenly. I was being sick, with bad diarrhoea and stomach pains. I started to get worried because it wasn’t getting any better. My daughter came over and rung the GP surgery. They told us that there was a bug going round and best thing to do was to keep warm, drink plenty of fluids and it should clear up in a couple of days. Thank fully it did. I was worried that my daughter would get it too but she kept washing her hands and must have worked because she didn’t get it.”

Norovirus is very contagious and can be spread through contact with an infected person, by eating or drinking contaminated food or water, or by contact with contaminated surfaces or objects.

Washing your hands regularly is very successful in protecting against the virus especially before meals and after visiting the toilet. Staff are saying to patients and visitors:

Don’t come to hospital if you have signs of a stomach upset.

Always wash your hands thoroughly after using the toilet and before handling food.

Wait at least 48 hours after being symptom free before visiting hospital. Following these simple yet very effective steps, can help keep patients safe and norovirus out of hospitals.

* Flu vaccinations for children

Flu vaccinations in Doncaster and Bassetlaw will be offered to around 10,000 children in a bid to stamp out flu. Sarah Thompson, RDaSH’s immunisation co-ordinator, said: “Flu can be a very unpleasant illness in children and some children can develop serious complications. The nasal spray is painless and easy for the children to have. By offering the flu vaccination we help to protect them in time for winter.”

Phone 0800 0199951.

* Stay up to date with new health app

A new app designed to help local people find health services in Doncaster is available.

Choose Well Doncaster is a handy and easy-to-use app, which gives local people advice when it’s best to use health services and where they can find them. It will be available in late November on the App Store, Choose Well Doncaster is a free download and is currently only available on iPhone. Check www.doncasterccg.nhs.uk for more information.

* ACE pharmacy pilot

Pharmacies in Doncaster will be reminding people not to ‘miss the symptoms’ of lung cancer as an innovative pilot launches in time for the winter months.

Developed, in partnership with local GPs, and funded by NHS Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), the ACE Pharmacy pilot aims to diagnose people with lung cancer earlier, leading to quicker treatment, which is key to beating the disease. Lung cancer is one of the three most common cancer killers, with 241 cases of the disease in the town in 2014/15. Doncaster has over 15,000 more smokers than in similar sized areas.