The ward, which was closed as of yesterday (15th October) has had 14 patients affected with nine still experiencing symptoms.
Initial testing has indicated that the symptoms are caused by norovirus although further testing is being done. The virus, which causes diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting, spreads in the air where someone has had diarrhoea or vomited and is extremely difficult to contain.
Dr Adam Brown, Consultant Microbiologist for NHS Highland, said: “We know that norovirus is out there in the community and it is likely it has been brought into the hospital.
“As well as restricting visiting to the affected ward we are also asking people not to come to the hospital to visit if they have had any vomiting or diarrhoea within the previous 48hrs. By doing this we will be able to limit the spread as much as possible.
“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.”
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 48 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.
• Ask ward staff for advice before you bring in food or drink for someone you are visiting in hospital.
For more information about hand hygiene visit the Scottish National Hand Hygiene Campaign website www.washyourhandsofthem.com