NURSES from Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust have visited Morpeth to raise awareness among residents about what they can do to help reduce the spread of bugs this winter.
As part of International Infection Prevention Week 2013, the trust’s infection control team went to supermarkets and hospitals across Northumberland and North Tyneside to educate people about norovirus – often known as the ‘winter vomiting virus’ – and their role in helping to prevent it being passed between lots of people in the area.
The places included the new Morrisons store off Dark Lane.
Norovirus is a very common gastrointestinal virus which causes diarrhoea and vomiting and it is estimated that it affects between 600,000 and one million people in the United Kingdom every year.
The virus is highly infectious and spreads rapidly in hospitals and care homes, particularly during the winter.
A key part of Northumbria Healthcare’s campaign is that it is everyone’s responsibility to help control the spread of the virus. Trust staff reinforced the message that people with symptoms of diarrhoea or vomiting should not visit loved ones in hospital to prevent the virus from affecting patients.
They also stressed the importance of good hand hygiene and other measures in helping to control the spread of bugs during the winter and throughout the year.
Catherine Stokoe, lead nurse for infection prevention and control at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “As we approach the winter and traditionally the time of year where instances of norovirus increase in the community, it is vital that people play their part in helping to reduce the spread of the virus and other winter bugs.
“The most important thing you can do if you’re feeling unwell and experiencing symptoms of diarrhoea or vomiting, or have had these within the last two days, is not to visit loved ones in hospital. This will help prevent the virus spreading to patients, many of whom could be frail and elderly.
“The same applies if you were planning to visit a care home or GP practice – please wait until you have been symptom-free for at least 48 hours before visiting these places.
“It is an unpleasant virus, however, it is generally short-lived and most people recover without treatment.
“Residents really can help prevent the spread of these viruses, which is why we’ve gone out into the community to speak to people about preventative measures before the worst of the weather.”
Washing hands thoroughly with soap and water is extremely important in helping to reduce the spread of these types of infections.
Anyone who is suffering from norovirus symptoms such as sickness and diarrhoea can be best treated by staying at home, drinking plenty of fluids and getting some rest while the virus runs its course.
If the symptoms persist for more than a few days, people are advised to telephone their doctor or NHS 111, or visit www.nhs.uk for online advice.