‘Stay away’ as hospitals battle bug

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HEALTH bosses have asked visitors to consider staying away from South Yorkshire’s hospitals, after an outbreak of the norovirus vomiting bug.

The bug has been found in hospitals in Sheffield and Rotherham and seven wards have been closed at the Royal Infirmary and Montagu hospitals after an outbreak in Doncaster.

Norovirus, also known as the winter vomiting bug, is an extremely contagious infection causing diarrhoea, vomiting and fever.

Hospital staff have asked visitors to consider staying away so as not to risk bringing infections into hospital where vulnerable patients may be infected.

Sheffield has seen one case of norovirus in the last few days, in an isolated bay at the Northern General Hospital.

Dr Christine Bates, consultant microbiologist at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals Trust, said: “Stomach bugs like norovirus are very difficult to control because they spread so quickly and easily from person to person. They are also very common out in the community.

“We would like people to think about whether they or anyone close to them such as family, friends or colleagues, has had diarrhoea, vomiting or fever within the last 72 hours. If so they should avoid visiting hospital as they could pass it on to their loved one.”

Norovirus spreads through personal contact, food and water, and is especially likely to spread where people are in close proximity, such as in hospitals or schools. There is no treatment for norovirus apart from letting the illness run its course. The infection usually lasts for between 12 and 60 hours.

Rotherham Hospital has seen several cases of Norovirus in the last week. A spokesman said: “This is expected during this time of year and we are effectively controlling and containing the virus through compliance with sound infection control practice.

“The trust advises anyone with symptoms including diarrhoea or vomiting to stay at home to avoid spreading the virus to patients, other people, and vulnerable groups in our communities.”

No cases have been reported at Barnsley Hospital, but staff have asked people to be vigilant.

Denise Potter, assistant director of infection control at Barnsley, said: “Staff, patients and visitors all have a responsibility to help prevent the spread of infections throughout the year, but particularly at this time when people are suffering with severe colds, diarrhoea and vomiting.”

n Opinion: Page 8.

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