THE Health Protection Agency (HPA) North West has issued advice on how to avoid the vomiting illness norovirus that traditionally becomes more prevalent in the winter months.
Norovirus infection is the most common cause of vomiting and diarrhoea in the UK, affecting an estimated 600,000 to one million people every year.
The symptoms are severe vomiting and or diarrhoea.
It is generally a short-lived illness from which the majority of people recover in 12 to 60 hours without treatment other than rest and taking plenty of drinks to replace lost liquids.
The illness is highly infectious and great care needs to be taken to prevent its spread.
Dr Ken Lamden, NW regional HPA lead for gastrointestinal illness, said: “It isn’t easy to prevent norovirus infection spreading when it gets into hospitals, residential care homes and schools.
“All too often it leads to the closure of hospital wards to new admissions, NHS staff going off work sick and patient appointments being postponed.
“People with the infection should stay at home, ensure their personal hygiene is good, particularly hand-washing, and avoid contact with others where possible.
“However, the elderly and very young can sometimes get more severe infection or become dehydrated.
“If that should be the case, they should contact their GP service or ask NHS Direct for advice.”
If symptoms persist or appear to be worsening, phone your family doctor or NHS Direct for advice. If you have blood in your stools, phone your doctor or NHS direct urgently for advice. The NHS Direct number is 0845-4647.