THE HSE HAS asked the public to help stop the spread of the winter vomiting bug by respecting hospital visiting hours and following hand hygiene directions when visiting patients.
The warning comes after 190 cases of the winter vomiting bug (norovirus) were recorded two weeks ago, while a further 115 cases were notified last week.
Usually, 50 cases in a normal week is a high number with hospitals, nursing homes and hotels around the country affected.
Dr Paul McKeown, HPSC specialist in public health medicine has this advice for patients:
While Out Patient Departments and Emergency Departments are not affected, patients are asked not to attend hospital if they have been affected by vomiting and/or diarrhoea in the last 48 hours.
Handwashing with soap and water – especially after contact with someone who is ill and after using the toilet – is also extremely important.
When the bug hits hospitals or nursing homes, it can cause serious disruptions like ward closures, cancelled operations and added pressure on emergency departments. It is important that ill and vulnerable patients do not become more ill than they already are.
Dr McKeown explains what the winter vomiting bug is:
It is highly infectious and very resilient and capable of spreading from person-to-person, by food and water, via surfaces and through the air. It can survive for a number of weeks in the environment and on surfaces such as door handles, toilet pulls, TV remote controls, light switches or worktops.
The principal symptoms are nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.
If you are concerned ring your GP for advice to reduce the possibility of bringing norovirus into the GP surgery.