PLEASE DO NOT visit our wards or departments if you have or have had diarrhoea and/or vomiting in the last 72 hours.
We are appealing to our local community to try and help us to keep our hospital free from Norovirus more commonly known as ‘winter vomiting’ as we are now entering that time of year when Norovirus infection becomes particularly common.
Norovirus infection is the most frequent cause of infectious gastroenteritis. It affects approximately one million people in the UK every year and is highly infectious. Norovirus causes a very unpleasant but generally short-lived illness from which people will usually recover without any treatment. The main symptom is vomiting, which can come on very suddenly and is often accompanied by diarrhoea. Some people may suffer with a raised temperature, headache and even aching limbs. If you do have any of these symptoms then the advice is simple: do not visit loved ones in hospital or nursing homes until you have been free of symptoms for at least 72 hours. You should also stay away from work, or school until you have fully recovered.
Norovirus is a particular problem for hospitals for two main reasons; because we are looking after already unwell people, some of whom have a reduced immunity or who are elderly and frail and therefore are more susceptible to infection. Also as Norovirus is highly infectious it can seriously affect the services within a hospital.
In most cases there is no benefit in people with this type of gastrointestinal infection being in hospital if they do not have some other more serious condition, however the very young and elderly may become dehydrated. People should simply stay at home and drink plenty of fluids until they are free of symptoms for 72 hours.
If symptoms persist, you become dehydrated, have an underlying medical condition or are genuinely concerned; you should contact your GP or call NHS Direct on 0845 4647 for advice.
Each winter the staff at Darent Valley work very hard to identify and contain any cases of Norovirus to ensure that as far as possible the illness is not communicated to other patients and staff. When we have cases of Norovirus we may have to close affected bays or wards and if necessary restrict visiting, we are always grateful for our visitor’s co-operation and understanding should these containment measures be necessary. Excellent hand hygiene by staff, patients and visitors is particularly important in controlling the spread of infection, however we do ask once again for people with possible Norovirus symptoms to please stay away.
Facts about Norovirus
Norovirus is not a notifiable disease so reporting is voluntary but it is estimated by the Health Protection Agency that the virus affects between 600,000 and a million people in the UK each year.
Norovirus is highly infectious and may be caught:
By direct contact with the vomit or diarrhoea of an affected person.
By direct contact with an infectious person which is why washing hands with soap and ward water after contact is so important.
From food that has been contaminated by the virus by someone with symptoms.
From food that was contaminated at source, such as raw shell fish.
From inanimate objects including flat surfaces, door handles etc., that have been contaminated by virus after someone has vomited in the area.
By breathing in the virus that is in the air around someone who has just vomited.
NOROVIRUS Is highly infectious! It can seriously disrupt a hospital.