Norovirus is present in the community all year round but tends to be more common during the winter months.
It causes diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting. It spreads in the air where someone has vomited and is extremely difficult to contain.
At the start of this year it caused a lot of disruption at Raigmore Hospital when a particularly virulent form of the illness spread to many patients and staff over several weeks.
Liz McClurg, NHS Highland Infection Control Manager, said: “Norovirus is prevalent in the community. If you are booked to come into hospital as an elective patient and have had diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting within the previous 48 hours contact either your GP or the ward for advice before you come into hospital. If you are admitted as an emergency please inform the staff that you have had these symptoms.”
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.
• Wait until you have been clear of symptoms for 48 hours, as you may still be contagious.
• Wash your hands regularly, especially after using the toilet and before eating.
• Ask ward staff for advice before you bring in food or drink for someone you are visiting in hospital.
• 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.
• If you think NHS premises are not as clean as they should be, let the Sister or Charge Nurse know. If you think a healthcare worker has forgotten to wash their hands, remind them about this.
For more information about hand hygiene visit the Scottish National Hand Hygiene Campaign website www.washyourhandsofthem.com