Stay away call for hospital visitors

Visitors are being urged to stay away from the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital if they have had symptoms of diarrhoea and/or vomiting in a bid to protect patients from a widespread seasonal stomach bug.

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital has one ward closed because of Norovirus and doctors are stressing that if any member of the public has symptoms of diarrhoea and/or vomiting they should refrain from visiting patients in order to prevent the spread of infection.

Children are at especially high risk of Norovirus-type bug and many schools across the county have been affected by the virus over the past few weeks. Children under the age of 16 should not visit the hospital unless for treatment or for compassionate reasons.

The Norovirus stomach bug (also know as gastroenteritis) causes nausea and/or diarrhoea and is very easily spread from person to person. The spread of infection is easiest in places where group of people are in close proximity for reasonable amounts of time such as residential homes, schools, hospitals and workplaces.

  • Norovirus is a community infection which causes diarrhoea and/or vomiting
  • We want to protect our patients by stopping the spread of this bug from the community
  • If you have been in close contact with someone who has had a sickness bug – please don't visit

The virus lasts around two days and no treatment is required, however, even after the symptoms have cleared up people may still carry the virus and infect others up to three days after their own symptoms have stopped.

Dr Judith Richards, consultant medical microbiologist at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, said: “Please do not visit hospital if you have recently had a sickness bug or been in close contact with someone who has had. We are asking people not to visit in order to protect our patients from this bug which is circulating in the local community.”

For more information about Norovirus please visit

What are Noroviruses?
Noroviruses are a group of viruses that are the most common cause of gastroenteritis (stomach bugs) in England and Wales, affecting up to one million people a year. Noroviruses has also been called ‘winter vomiting viruses’, ‘small round structured viruses’ or ‘Norwalk-like viruses’.

How does it spread?
The virus is easily transmitted from one person to another. It can be transmitted by contact with infected person; by consuming contaminated food or water or by contact with contaminated surfaces or objects.

What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of norovirus infection will begin around 12 to 48 hours after becoming infected. The illness is self-limiting and the symptoms will last for 12 to 60 hours. They will start with the sudden onset of nausea followed by projectile vomiting, and watery diarrhoea. Some people may have a raised temperature, headaches and aching limbs. Most people make a full recovery within one to two days, however some people (usually the very young or elderly) may become very dehydrated and require hospital treatment.

Why does norovirus often cause outbreaks?
Norovirus often causes outbreaks because it is easily spread from one person to another and the virus is able to survive in the environment for many days. Because there are many different strains of norovirus, and immunity is short-lived outbreaks tend to affect more than 50 per cent of susceptible people. Outbreaks usually tend to affect people who are in semi-closed environments such as hospitals, nursing homes, schools and on cruise ships.

How can these outbreaks be stopped?
Outbreaks can be difficult to control and long-lasting because norovirus is easily transmitted from one person to another and the virus can survive in the environment. The most effective way to respond to an outbreak is to disinfect contaminated areas and to institute good hygiene measures including hand-washing and provide advice on food handling and also isolating those infected for up to 48 hours after their symptoms have ceased.

How is norovirus treated?
There is no specific treatment for norovirus apart from letting the illness run its course. It is important to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.

If I’m suffering from norovirus, how can I prevent others from becoming infected?
Good hygiene is important in preventing others from becoming infected – this includes thorough hand washing before and after contact. Food preparation should also be avoided until three days after symptoms have gone altogether.

When can I visit if I’ve had the virus/been in contact with someone who has had the virus ?
If you have been free of the symptoms mentioned above from more than 72 hours or the person/s you have been in contact with has been free of the symptoms then it is acceptable to visit the hospital. If your symptoms are more recent than that we strongly recommend that you don’t visit. IF IN ANY DOUBT PLEASE DON’T VISIT.

Monday 1st of December 2008 04:00:24 PM