NHS Western Isles issues advice as Norovirus season approaches

NHS Western Isles is issuing advice to the public, in particular when visiting friends and family in hospital, as Health Boards across Scotland prepare for the annual onset of norovirus.

It is key that members of the public take precautions to help prevent them catching or spreading the infection, otherwise known as the ‘winter vomiting bug’, to others.

Visitors to hospitals in the Western Isles are specifically being asked to wash their hands with soap and water before and after visiting, and to avoid visiting if they have experienced any norovirus symptoms (for 48 hours after the last symptom).

Norovirus is usually self-limiting and will disappear after a day or two. Symptoms commonly include:

Nausea and diarrhoea (with or without vomiting)

Stomach cramps

Low-grade fever and/or chills

Headache and muscle aches

Fatigue

Dr Louise Scott, GP Health Protection Team, NHS Western Isles, has issued the following general health advice:

To minimise the spread of Norovirus:

- Wash your hands thoroughly after visiting the toilet

- Hand washing with soap and water, not just using the alcohol gels, is important

- Similarly any surfaces that have been contaminated should be cleaned with a bleach-based disinfectant including toilet seats, handles and taps. Take care to ensure that the disinfectant is used safely and in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

Additionally those with symptoms should

- Drink plenty of fluids to stay well hydrated.

- Stay at home until 48 hours after symptoms have stopped.

- Do not visit hospitals, nurseries or nursing homes if affected

NHS Western Isles Infection Control Manager Jennifer Macdonald said: “Norovirus is the most common stomach bug in the UK, affecting people of all ages.

“The virus is easily spread by contact with an infected person, especially through their hands. As the infection is so contagious, we would urge members of the public to ensure they follow infection control practices, and good hand hygiene is key to preventing the spread of infection.”