Doctors across Blackburn with Darwen want members of the public to be on the lookout for symptoms of Norovirus and take sensible precautions in case you suffer a bout this winter.
Norovirus, sometimes known as the ‘winter vomiting disease’ because it usually occurs during the winter months often starts to appear in the autumn, peaking during January. It is highly contagious and the most frequent cause of infectious gastroenteritis in England and Wales. Typical symptoms are vomiting and diarrhoea. The sickness and diarrhoea can be distressing and you can also feel unwell with a temperature, headache, aching limbs and stomach cramps. It can be very unpleasant while you have it. People suffering will feel very unwell initially but will usually improve quickly as the symptoms settle.
It is a highly infectious disease, affecting people of all ages, with symptoms usually lasting anywhere between a few hours to a couple of days. Most people do recover quickly.
Dr Chris Clayton, Clinical Chief Officer of NHS Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “If someone suspects they have Norovirus they should ensure they do not visit hospitals, schools or care homes to reduce the risk of them passing it on to others. They should also avoid work, only returning after they have been free of diarrhoea and vomiting for at least 48 hours as during this time infectious viruses may still be present.
“It is likely that a number of people in the Blackburn with Darwen area will be affected by Norovirus during the coming winter and we would ask people to follow our advice to minimise its effects on themselves, their families and other people.”
Good hygiene is particularly important in preventing yourself or others from becoming infected.
This includes thorough hand washing especially after using the toilet, and ensuring any contaminated surfaces are thoroughly disinfected after an episode of illness. Food preparation should also be avoided until three days after symptoms have disappeared.
Unfortunately there is no specific treatment for Norovirus apart from letting the illness run its course; therefore it is important to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration especially in the very young or elderly.
People suffering do not usually need to consult their GP unless symptoms are very bad or continue beyond 48 hours.
The NHS Choices website (www.nhs.uk) can provide further advice. You can also call the NHS 111 helpline if symptoms do not quickly subside or you have additional concerns.
For further information please contact Jonathan Bridge at Lancashire Commissioning Support Unit via email firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01772 214213.