A severe norovirus outbreak at Scarborough Hospital has left Oak ward, Graham ward and Aspen unit closed.
There are currently 50 beds out of use and visitors are being asked to stay at home if they have any symptoms of the winter vomiting bug.
Scarborough and Ryedale Clinical Commissioning Group chairman and family GP, Dr Phil Garnett, said: “When a loved one is poorly and in hospital, our natural instinct is to want to be with them, even if we’re feeling under the weather ourselves.
“However, Norovirus is particularly contagious and if you have the bug, the risk of passing it on to the person you are visiting in hospital who may already be quite ill – as well as other people – is extremely high.
“When an outbreak of the virus occurs, particularly in an environment like a hospital, it is difficult to contain and can lead to the closure of entire wards, putting a huge strain on local NHS services at a time when they are most in demand.”
York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust Chief Nurse, Beverley Geary, added: “Closing wards helps us to contain the virus, but it means beds become unavailable and pressure is created throughout the entire system. Visitors can play a large part by staying away while they are unwell with diarrhoea and vomiting and for two days after their symptoms have stopped.”
Norovirus is the most common stomach bug in the UK, affecting people of all ages. It spreads rapidly in closed environments such as hospitals, schools and care homes. It can be spread through contact with an infected person, by contact with contaminated surfaces or by consuming contaminated food or water.
There is no treatment for Norovirus but it is important people who have the winter vomiting bug keep hydrated to combat the loss of fluids. People infected with Norovirus are usually contagious from the moment they begin feeling ill to at least three days after recovery. However, most people will recover within a few days and there are no long-term effects.
Typical symptoms of a Norovirus infection include the sudden onset of projectile vomiting and watery diarrhoea. Some people also experience headaches, mild temperature and stomach cramps.
The Scarborough and Ryedale CCG strongly urges anyone who thinks they may be infected to stay at home and don’t visit a GP surgery, but call NHS 111 for advice if necessary.
There are simple steps people can take to reduce the risk of spreading Norovirus:-
Thorough hand washing – wet, lather, scrub, rinse and dry
Don’t prepare food while infected
Immediately clean and disinfect surfaces after episodes of diarrhoea and vomiting
Wash clothes and bed linens that may be contaminated thoroughly
Drink plenty of fluids – stay away from caffeine and pay particular attention to the young and elderly for signs of dehydration
For more information please visit www.nhs.uk/norovirus