Medical Officer of Health asks Islanders to help reduce the spread of Norovirus

| November 29, 2012 | 0 Comments

Recently, and particularly in the last few days Jersey has been experiencing increasing problems with Norovirus infections.

Much of the UK is similarly affected.  Bartlett Ward at Jersey General Hospital was closed last week because of Norovirus and remains closed – (subject of recent media releases).  Measures are being pursued to reduce the impact of Norovirus on other parts of the hospital.  A small number of hospital staff have fallen ill and are away from their duties to help prevent further infection spread. As a precautionary measure, the seating section of the Hospital Dining Room, which is normally open to the public, is currently closed to the public. There are also reports of a rising tide of infections in the community, in care homes as well as schools and some businesses.

Norovirus spreads rapidly in closed environments such as hospitals, schools, cruise ships, nursing and residential homes and hotels.

Dr Susan Turnbull, Medical Officer of Health, said, “It is important that everyone plays their part in trying to slow down the spread of this highly infectious virus, its impact on our Island and particularly on our Hospital.”

“Norovirus is the most common cause of infectious gastroenteritis (diarrhoea and vomiting) in the British Isles. The illness is generally self-limiting, although the symptoms can be very unpleasant while they last, often with sudden onset vomiting and /or diarrhoea.  Most people usually recover fully within 2-3 days.  The best advice is to keep as well hydrated as possible, by drinking little and often while the symptoms last.

“Unless there is severe dehydration, it is very unusual to need hospital treatment in people who are normally healthy. People with pre-existing serious medical conditions should, as with any new symptoms, seek early advice from their GP.  Even for the previously healthy, if vomiting and diarrhoea symptoms persist for more than three or four days, then medical advice should be sought from a GP.  But please don’t go to the GP’s surgery, and especially not to the hospital unless specifically advised by a doctor to do so”

“There are no long term effects that result from Norovirus infection.  Antibiotics are ineffective against it, as they are against any other viral infections.”

“This virus is particularly problematic because it is highly contagious – spreading easily by contact with an infected person, eating contaminated food or water or by contact with contaminated surfaces or objects.   It is because profuse vomiting is such a common symptom that surfaces easily become contaminated, and rapidly infect further people if the surfaces are not thoroughly decontaminated and if hands are not washed regularly.”

“My advice is to wash hands frequently and thoroughly, and make sure contaminated surfaces are thoroughly cleaned, ideally wearing plastic or rubber gloves and using detergent and then diluted bleach.”

“I cannot stress strongly enough how important it is, when symptoms start that could be Norovirus, for people to:

  • Go home from work, or from school as soon as practically possible
  • Do not come to the hospital, or go to a GP surgery (and risk infecting others)
  • Do not return to work/school until 48 hours after all symptoms have passed including vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal cramps

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Category: Community, Health & Beauty

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