Infection control measures in Western Isles Hospital

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NHS Western Isles would like to advise members of the public that the decision has been taken to stop visiting in Medical Ward 2 in Western Isles Hospital until further notice (with the exception of those who are visiting patients who are critically ill), as a small number of inpatients are currently experiencing symptoms common to the norovirus winter vomiting bug.

Whilst there have been no laboratory confirmed cases of norovirus in the Western Isles this year, a small number of patients in Medical Ward 2 have recently experienced diarrhoea and vomiting. The ward was closed to new admissions today to help prevent the spread of infection.

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.”

It is key that members of the public take precautions to help prevent them catching or spreading the infection to others. All 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 and Fatigue.

Dr Louise Scott, GP Health Protection Team, NHS Western Isles, has issued the following general health adviceTo 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 and do not visit hospitals, nurseries or nursing homes if affected.

Further information visit http://www.hps.scot.nhs.uk/giz/norovirus.aspx