Beat Winter Bugs

A two-pronged attack on two common winter bugs is being launched at a series of roadshows organised by health experts from NHS Forth Valley. Infection prevention and control specialists, together with staff from public health and occupational health, will be advising people how to prevent an outbreak of the winter vomiting bug, norovirus, and explaining what to do to keep flu at bay and ways to treat it should you be un lucky enough to catch it.

The team will be delivering the messages in shopping cent res and hospitals, where they will remind people that you don’t only contract Norovirus in hospital. People can bring it in from home while they visit. There will also be an opportunity for people to see how clean their hands really are, by holding them under ultra violet light which shows up germs not visible to the naked eye.

Anyone with diarrhoea and vomiting is asked to wait at least 48 hours after the symptoms have stopped before venturing into hospital, as the disease can pass easily from one person to another and catching Norovirus in hospital means that patients may have to stay in longer.

NHS Forth Valley Interim Director of Public Health, Dr Graham Foster said: “Please help us to protect our patients by keeping Norovirus out of hospitals.  Diarrhoea and vomiting is very common during the winter months so we are appealing to people with these symptoms to help us by staying away until they feel better. Hospital patients are often weak and unwell and need to be protected from this type of infection.”

Symptoms of Norovirus include a sudden onset of nausea (feeling sick), vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach pains or cramps, headaches, fever and tiredness.

Although these symptoms usually resolve in 48-72 hours without complications, Norovirus is highly contagious and unpleasant. It is very difficult to prevent infection but thorough hand washing is highly recommended. People with symptoms should not prepare food for others. If symptoms continue people are advised to contact NHS 24 on 111 for advice.

People should also remember if they are caring for someone with Norovirus it is important to encourage them to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.

This year NHS Forth Valley is targeting a total of 33,000 children in GP surgeries and more than 120 primary schools across the health board area as part of an extended national child flu immunisation programme.

The free nasal flu spray, which is quick to administer and pain free, is being offered to all youngsters between the ages of 2 and 11 although alternative forms are available for children who cannot have the nasal spray.

Consultant in Public Health Medicine Dr Henry Prempeh added:  “Flu can be very serious as even healthy children can become very unwell and, in some cases, may require to be admitted to hospital for treatment. I would therefore encourage parents across Forth Valley to take up the offer of this free vaccine.  It’s safe, quick and painless, and offers protection against the types of virus that are most likely to be circulating this winter.”

The team will also be advising on  flu vaccines for the over 65’s and for people with what is known as ‘at risk’ conditions such as asthma and heart disease.