NHS chiefs are warning people to be on their guard because of an increase in the number of cases of norovirus or “winter vomiting”.
The increase has led to Diamond Ward at Ellesmere Port hospital being closed temporarily to new admissions.
Western Cheshire Primary Care Trust spokeswoman Anne-Marie Storey said: “We are not banning visitors to Diamond Ward but would ask family and friends of patients to consider not visiting for the next couple of days.
“If they do visit they must use the alcohol rub before and after visiting. Children should be kept away from the ward for the next few days if at all possible.”
The illness does not last long and people usually recover in anything from 12 to 60 hours without treatment other than rest and lots of fluids.
Norovirus is a highly contagious infection which can spread quickly, for example in hospitals, schools, nurseries, residential care homes and workplaces.
Therefore experts say it is important to try to prevent the virus spreading by keeping good personal hygiene, particularly hand- washing and anyone suffering from norovirus should stay at home and avoid contact with others where possible.
Sufferers should not seek treatment in hospitals or GP surgeries where they could introduce the infection to vulnerable patients.
However, the elderly and very young can sometimes get a more severe infection of norovirus or become dehydrated. If that should be the case, they or their family, friends or carers should telephone their GP service or NHS Direct – 0845 4647 – for advice.
People affected must stay off work or school until they have been symptom-free for 48 hours to prevent the spread to others.