11 September 2015
There is currently some norovirus type activity in Jersey, prompting a reminder from the General Hospital about appropriate measures to help prevent the infection spreading.
Symptoms of norovirus type infection include diarrhoea, abdominal cramps, malaise and vomiting, and typically the illness will resolve spontaneously within 48 to 72 hours. Dr Ivan Muscat, the Hospital’s Consultant Microbiologist, said it was rarely serious but could spread rapidly, particularly within institutions.
Dr Muscat outlined the best approach for those who are unwell and believe norovirus type infection to be the cause of this.
“Resting at home, ensuring adequate hydration and appropriate use of paracetamol are usually sufficient,” he said. “However the effects may sometimes be more severe, particularly in the very young, the very old and those with underlying medical conditions.
“Individuals who are concerned about their symptoms, whether because of dehydration (thirst, light-headedness, headache, tiredness, dry mouth, dark urine, small amounts of urine) or a belief that their symptoms may reflect another condition, or if they have been unwell for more than 48- 72 hours should, in the first instance, contact their GP for advice.”
Seeking GPs' advice
Dr Muscat stressed that because the infection was contagious but rarely serious, and would usually resolve itself, Islanders should initially seek advice from their GP if at all possible, rather than come directly to Hospital.
“Individuals with symptoms of norovirus type infection should avoid visiting the Hospital and other institutions, particularly food outlets, until their symptoms cease,” he said. “They should not prepare food for others, and workers in catering and health establishments should not return to work for 48 hours from the time that they last experienced symptoms.”
Additional recommended measures are:
- The implementation of increased hand hygiene, washing thoroughly with soap and water
- Increased hygiene in food preparation/handling sites and toilet areas, using if at all possible chlorine-based agents
- Being mindful that alcohol gels are not reliably effective against norovirus or similar viruses
- Early spot-cleaning, with chlorine-based agents, in the event of any spills
- Caterers and those supervising health care facilities should take extra care to ensure that their staff are not unwell
- Not coming to the General Hospital as a visitor