A medical ward at Raigmore Hospital, Inverness has been closed to new admissions and visitors are being asked to stay away while staff deal with several cases of diarrhoea and vomiting.
Ward 7C, which was closed today, has three confirmed cases of norvirus and four patients currently affected with symptoms. The Infection Prevention and Control Team are monitoring the situation and infection control measures are in place.
The virus, which causes diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting, spreads in the air where someone has had diarrhoea or vomited and is extremely infectious. It is important that everyone plays their part in reducing outbreak risks.
Dr Adam Brown, Consultant Microbiologist for NHS Highland, said: “It is disappointing that we have had to close the ward so soon after it was reopened but we know there is significant norovirus in the community and we do believe that this is an infection that has been brought into the ward and has affected new patients.”
Dr Brown explained that this strain of Norovirus seems to have a long incubation period so have extended the period of clearance required from 48hours to 72hours.
He said: “Again we would stress that people do not come to the hospital/s to visit if they have, or live with someone who has, had any vomiting or diarrhoea.
“As this strain seems to have a longer incubation period we would ask that anyone coming into the hospital needs to be clear for at least 72hours. By doing this we will be able to limit the spread as much as possible.
“By restricting visiting to the affected area it helps hospital staff protect the health, privacy and dignity of our patients. Hospital staff will of course be very happy to talk to visitors on the phone so they can get updates on how their relatives are.”
If you feel that visiting is essential please contact the ward first by phone before coming to the hospital. Please do not visit the ward unless by prior arrangement with the nurse in charge.
There is no specific treatment for a norovirus infection and it is not usually necessary to visit a doctor. The best course of action is to stay at home, take paracetamol to relieve symptoms of any fever and to drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration. People should also adhere to strict hand washing techniques to reduce the spread of the virus.
The public can help to minimise the spread by following some simple rules:-
• Do not visit a hospital if you or someone you live with has symptoms. If you have a hospital appointment, please get in touch and, where appropriate, your appointment can be rescheduled.
• Wait until you have been clear of symptoms for 72 hours, as you may still be contagious, even if you feel well.
• Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, especially after using the toilet and before eating.
• If you visit someone in hospital, don't sit on their bed and keep the number of visitors to a minimum at any one time. Never touch dressings, drips, or other equipment around the bed.
For more information about hand hygiene visit the Scottish National Hand Hygiene Campaign website www.washyourhandsofthem.com