HEALTH protection officers have eased fears about the outbreak of a sickness virus that forced a hospital to close its doors.
Staff at Tarporley War Memorial Hospital took the decision to stop patient admissions and discharges when seven patients and four staff members showed symptoms of diarrhoea and vomiting.
Dr Nick Phin, a consultant with the Cheshire and Merseyside Health Protection Unit, said the infection was soon diagnosed as mild gastroenteritis from the Norovirus, sometimes known as winter vomiting.
'Gastroenteritis is a viral infection which lasts 24 to 48 hours. It causes vomiting, sometimes projectile, nausea, stomach cramps and diarrhoea.
'It is highly infectious but is more unpleasant for the patient than dangerous.
'It is quite common in the community, we have seen 15 cases of it in Cheshire and Merseyside health care centres already in 2004 and you see a lot of kids getting it in schools.
'People should only really see their doctor if it goes on longer than 24 to 48 hours or if any of the symptoms become more severe because there is no specific treatment apart from rehydration.'
Dr Phin added that Tarporley's outbreak was not a serious case. Premises that are affected by gastroenteritis are safe to reopen after 48 hours of being free of any symptoms so hospital staff hope to reopen over the weekend. Anyone requiring information on appointments booked for next week can call the hospital on 01829 732436.