HOSPITAL chiefs have issued a warning after another outbreak of the winter vomiting bug has partially closed wards.
The Norovirus, which causes severe diarrhoea and vomiting, forced the closure of a bay of a ward at Doncaster Royal Infirmary and another at Mexborough Montagu - just weeks after the virus closed eight wards in the run-up to Christmas.
Medics say they are able to control outbreaks by closing wards to new patients and increasing cleaning regimes, but they are calling on the public’s help to stop the virus spreading further.
They have also warned that frail and elderly patients could die if they contract the bug.
Health chiefs are urging anyone suffering any signs of a stomach upset or flu-like symptoms not to visit a hospital until 48 hours after they are free of symptoms.
Maurice Madeo, deputy director of infection prevention and control, said: “Hand hygiene is the single most important thing that we can do to prevent the spread of infections.
“We advise staff to wash their hands before and after every patient contact – and that’s advice we could all adopt: wash your hands frequently and regularly with hand wash or soap. Make sure that you really wash between your fingers, under your finger nails, and around your thumbs and wrists.
”We can’t be too careful about limiting the spread of all infections. An infection on top of another medical condition can prove fatal to sick, frail patients.”
A hospital spokesman said that the disease was commonly transmitted by person-to-person contact where there had been inadequate hand hygiene after use of the toilet.
Anyone contracting the infection while in hospital means a longer stay – which can potentially ‘block’ a bed that another patient may need.
The first sign of Norovirus is usually a sudden sick feeling followed by forceful vomiting and diarrhoea.
Some people may also suffer a raised temperature, headaches, stomach cramps and aching limbs.
Symptoms usually appear one to two days after becoming infected.
Most people make a full recovery within a couple of days. Apart from the risk of dehydration, the illness is not generally dangerous and there are usually no long-lasting effects from having Norovirus.