Norovirus cases increase

Publication Date: 27 October 2016

Health Protection Scotland (HPS) has today announced that there has been an increase in levels of norovirus across Scotland.

Latest figures show that NHS Boards are experiencing increased norovirus activity.

Health professionals across NHS Scotland are working to reduce the likelihood of outbreaks arising. The public are also being asked to play their part in minimising the spread of the virus.

Lisa Ritchie, Nurse Consultant, Infection Control at HPS, said: “Norovirus is a highly infectious virus that causes outbreaks in the community, healthcare and care settings. It is present all year round but becomes more common in the winter when people stay indoors for longer and in larger groups.

“To help reduce the risk of outbreaks in hospitals, care settings and the wider community, we are again asking members of the public who think they have norovirus to stay at home until at least 48 hours after any symptoms have stopped.

“As norovirus is so infectious, it is important that everyone plays their part in reducing the risk of outbreaks. To do this, hospitals may suspend access to particular wards to protect patients, staff and visitors from norovirus and to minimise disruption to healthcare services.”

HPS will continue to monitor the situation and will support NHS Boards as required.

[ENDS]

Contact(s):
Communications Team
Health Protection Scotland
Meridian Court
5 Cadogan Street
Glasgow
G2 6QE

Tel: 0141 300 1117
Email: NSS.hpscommunications@nhs.net

Notes to the Editor
For more details of the latest picture, see Health Protection Scotland’s weekly norovirus report - http://www.hps.scot.nhs.uk/giz/norovirussurveillance.aspx

Facts about norovirus:

  • Norovirus occurs all year round in the community and is unrelated to hospital cleanliness.
  • There is no vaccine to protect against norovirus.
  • The virus continually changes and people don’t develop lasting immunity, so you can catch it more than once.
  • Noroviruses can survive for days on any surface – including exposed food and wrapped food items.

Advice to the public:

  • Norovirus is a highly contagious virus which causes vomiting and/or diarrhoea.
  • The first sign of norovirus is usually a sudden sick feeling, followed by forceful vomiting and watery diarrhoea.
  • Symptoms usually last a couple of days, although this can be longer in elderly people.
  • People are most likely to spread infection when they have symptoms and for up to 48 hours after symptoms have gone.

What to do if you’ve got it:
There is no specific cure for norovirus – you just need to let it run its course (usually 2-3 days).
To help ease your symptoms and stop the virus spreading:

  • Stay at home and avoid direct contact with people until at least 48 hours after your symptoms have stopped.
  • Keep your hands clean. Good hand hygiene is key to stopping the onward spread of infection.
  • Drink plenty of liquid, water is best. This will replace the fluids lost from vomiting and diarrhoea.
  • Eat foods that are easy to digest.

If your symptoms last longer than a few days, or you are worried about dehydration, call NHS Inform on 0800 22 44 88.

Preventing the spread of norovirus:
Norovirus can’t always be avoided, but you can help to prevent it spreading.

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water, particularly after using the toilet.
  • Stay at home, avoid cooking for others, and don’t visit hospitals or care homes until at least 48 hours after your symptoms have gone. You may still be infectious.
  • Don’t share towels, flannels and toothbrushes.
  • Keep household surfaces clean.
  • Rinse fruit and vegetables well before eating them.