Members of the public and businesses in Jersey have been urged to play their part in stopping the spread of norovirus over the festive season.
Dr Ivan Muscat, Consultant Microbiologist at Jersey General Hospital, said cases of norovirus had been reported in both Jersey and the UK during the early weeks of winter.
“The numbers are currently significantly lower than last winter, but we are nevertheless reminding people about appropriate measures to reduce the spread of norovirus,” he said.
Symptoms of norovirus include diarrhoea, abdominal cramps, malaise and vomiting, which will usually clear up naturally within 48 to 72 hours. It is rarely serious, but can spread rapidly, particularly within institutions. Resting at home, ensuring adequate hydration and appropriate use of paracetamol are usually sufficient.
Those who could be more seriously ill include the very young, the very old and those with underlying medical conditions. Individuals who are concerned about their symptoms or are concerned about any signs of dehydration (thirst, light-headedness, headache, tiredness, dry mouth, dark urine, small amounts of urine) should contact their GP. Additionally, individuals who feel that their symptoms may reflect another condition, or those whose symptoms last more than 72 hours, should also contact their GP for advice in the first instance.
Due to the risk of contagion, individuals with symptoms of noroviral infection should avoid visiting the Hospital and other institutions, including food outlets, until after their symptoms have passed. Workers in catering and in health establishments should not return to work for 48 hours from last symptoms.
Even in the absence of known cases of novovirus in an area or institution, the implementation of sensible precautionary measures will help limit illness. These include:
• increased hand hygiene with soap and water (alcohol gels are not reliably effective against norovirus)
• increased hygiene in food preparation/handling sites and toilet areas, using chlorine-based agents if at all possible
• prompt cleaning of any areas affected by spills, also using chlorine-based agents if possible
• caterers and those supervising healthcare facilities should take extra care to ensure that their staff are not unwell.
Dr Muscat added: “Adopting these very straightforward measures should help reduce the burden of illness, in spite of the normal increase in social and family gatherings during this period, and will promote a healthier Christmas and New Year.”