16 December 2010
The Health and Social Services Department (HSSD) are asking Islanders to take precautions to help reduce the impact of the seasonal norovirus, particularly in health care institutions such as the hospital and care homes.
Although there has not been a specific outbreak of norovirus, there have been 3 confirmed cases in the last 2 weeks and at least 5 clinical cases in the hospital over the last 2 days.
Consultant microbiologist Dr Ivan Muscat said "Although this is not an outbreak, it is important we make people aware of this seasonal virus, as there will be many cases that will remain unknown to us but of course be just as infectious. Infection in otherwise well individuals is usually mild with abdominal cramps, nausea, diarrhoea and, in some 50% of cases, vomiting and malaise with spontaneous recovery in some 1-3 days.
"Individuals who are already unwell in hospital may have more of a problem in dealing with this additional illness. It spreads very readily and in closed communities can effect many individuals at the same time disrupting normal activity. It is important therefore that we try to contain this at an early stage to dampen any impact."
In order to reduce norovirus spread, HSSD is issuing the following general advice:
- use good personal and food hygiene paying particular care to hand cleaning with soap and warm water
- patients with norovirus like symptoms should pay particular attention to hygiene, avoid preparing food for others and be assessed by their GP as necessary
- people with norovirus will not be admitted to hospital unless they need urgent treatment. If admitted, they will be isolated
- visitors with a possible norovirus like illness such as abdominal cramps, nausea and diarrhoea should not come to the hospital
"No hospital wards are currently closed" said Dr Muscat. "If people observe good hygiene, and do not come to the hospital and other health care sites unnecessarily with norovirus symptoms, this will help greatly to contain any infection."