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Stay at home if you have winter vomiting bug, docs warn

West Leeds residents are being urged to stay home and get telephone or online advice from the NHS rather than visiting a hospital or health centre, if they fall ill with norovirus, the winter vomiting bug.

The advice has been issued by the local NHS in an effort to reduce the spread of the bug, which can have a significant impact on local healthcare services.

Dr Sarah Forbes, GP and Associate Medical Director for NHS Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), says:

“Norovirus is extremely common at this time of year. It’s a particularly unpleasant bug which causes sickness and diarrhoea. The challenge to reduce the spread of norovirus in the community is a tough one because it is highly infectious and passes easily from person to person.

“Good hygiene is the key to reducing the spread of norovirus as well as viruses like Covid-19 and coughs and colds. The most important thing people can do is wash their hands thoroughly after going to the toilet and before preparing food.

“With Christmas coming up, it is also important to make sure that meat and poultry is cooked through properly and any leftovers stored safely to prevent food poisoning.

“If you do become ill, please use NHS 111 online or call NHS 111 for advice. You should avoid going anywhere, especially hospital, unless you’re advised to. Sickness and diarrhoea can be very unpleasant, but they usually clear up by themselves in two to three days.”

Norovirus is the biggest cause of infectious gastroenteritis in the UK and is more likely to spread in places where people are in close proximity to one another such as hospitals, schools and nursing homes.

The main symptoms are

  • Feeling sick (nausea)
  • Diarrhoea
  • Being sick (vomiting)

You may also have the following symptoms:

  • A high temperature of 38C or above
  • A headache
  • Aching arms and legs

There are six simple steps that can reduce the spread of norovirus and other tummy bugs:

  • Wash your hands with antibacterial soap and water, particularly before eating and after going to the toilet. Avoid preparing food for other people but if you really have to, make sure you wash your hands and thoroughly clean fruit and vegetables before cooking.
  • Cook meat and poultry thoroughly until the juices run clear and clean down any work surfaces to prevent contamination. 
  • Stay at home. Generally there is no need to visit your GP or local hospital unless a medical professional has advised you to. If you or a relative is experiencing sickness and diarrhoea, drink plenty of fluids and try to eat foods that are easy to digest such as soup, bread, pasta and rice. Babies should be given their normal feed.
  • Children and older people can be more severely affected by norovirus. If you are concerned about yours or a friend or relative’s symptoms then contact NHS 111 or visit the NHS website.
  • Don’t go to work until at least 48 hours after the symptoms have stopped. Before this time you are still contagious and could pass the illness on to your colleagues.
  • Do your laundry on a 60 degree centigrade cycle to get rid of any bacteria lingering on clothing and bedding. Also remember to disinfect toilets, basins, sinks and door handles regularly with an antibacterial household cleaning product.

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