NHS Highland is aware of an increase in the number of cases of diarrhoea and vomiting in the community as well as cases within two of our hospitals.
Raigmore Hospital currently has two wards closed to admissions, Ward 2A and Ward 7C, with restricted visiting to each. Caithness General’s Rosebank Ward is also closed to admissions and visitors are being asked not to come to the ward.
A small number of cases have been confirmed as norovirus, also known as the winter vomiting bug. This increase in cases is being reflected elsewhere in the country.
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.
It can also be passed on by poor hand hygiene, which means that preventing the spread of this virus is everyone’s business.
Dr Emma Watson, Lead Infection Control Doctor for NHS Highland, said: “We know this virus is in the community and it is likely that it has been brought in to the hospital.
“This is why we are asking everyone to think twice before they come in as a visitor and, if you or a family member has had these symptoms, please do not come in. By doing this we will be able to limit to spread as much as possible.”
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.
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 with soap and water, 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.
A small number of patients have had procedures cancelled as staff work to contain the virus. These patients have been contacted directly and will be rescheduled as soon as possible. If you have not been advised of a cancellation please come in as normal. We are continuing to monitor the situation.
Dr Watson said: “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 attending at the hospital.
“If you are admitted as an emergency please inform the staff that you have had these symptoms.”
For more information about hand hygiene visit the Scottish National Hand Hygiene Campaign website www.washyourhandsofthem.com
Notes to editors:
The two hospitals affected are –
Rosebank Ward at Caithness General Hospital - 5 patients and 7 staff are affected, the ward has been closed to admissions.
Ward 2A at Raigmore Hospital - 15 patients and 12 staff are affected, the ward has been closed to admissions.
Ward 7C at Raigmore Hospital – 17 patients and four staff are affected, the ward has been closed to admissions.