Vomiting virus hits two hospital wards

TWO medical wards at West Suffolk Hospital, Bury St Edmunds, have been closed to new admissions after several patients showed symptoms of a highly contagious diarrhoea and vomiting virus.

James Mortlock

TWO medical wards at West Suffolk Hospital, Bury St Edmunds, have been closed to new admissions after several patients showed symptoms of a highly contagious diarrhoea and vomiting virus.

Norovirus, which is often known as winter vomiting virus, affects hundreds of people in the community each year. Sufferers get bouts of diarrhoea and vomiting which last for one or two days, but may remain contagious even after they start feeling better.

A hospital spokesman said although it was more common in the winter months, outbreaks of Norovirus sometimes happened in the spring.

He said patients with the highly contagious diarrhoea and vomiting virus had been isolated in the two affected wards to prevent the illness from spreading, while visitors who have shown symptoms of the virus have been urged to stay away.

Dr Caroline Barker, the hospital's infection control doctor, said: “Norovirus is very infectious and every year there are cases in the community which transfer to the hospital.

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“We are managing the current cases using our stringent infection control policies and have been proactive to stop the infection from spreading to any other wards. Our cleaning staff have also been working hard to make sure enhanced cleaning takes place on the affected wards.

“We would advise anyone who has had diarrhoea or vomiting to stay away from the hospital for at least 72 hours after they have recovered, even if they feel better. Otherwise they run the risk of unknowingly passing the highly contagious illness on to someone who is already sick.

“Anyone who visits the hospital should also take care to clean their hands. If visiting the affected wards they should use soap and water as the alcohol gel is not effective against this virus.”

Anyone suffering from norovirus should stay at home, drink plenty of fluids and take tablets such as paracetamol to relieve a temperature.

People with the virus need to come into hospital if they are very young, very old or frail and are having problems with dehydration.