Wirral's Arrowe Park Hospital hit by norovirus outbreak
WIRRAL'S flagship hospital at Arrowe Park has been hit by a norovirus outbreak so severe that in some wards no more patients are being admitted while elsewhere visiting is being restricted, the Globe can reveal.
Relatives and friends visiting patients are being asked to observe temporary visiting restrictions in order to minimise the spread of norovirus.
The hospital has "a number" of wards affected by the virus that causes diarrhoea and/or vomiting, the operating trust said in a statement this afternoon.
The statement says: "Norovirus can be easily transmitted from person to person, particularly in confined environments such as schools, nursing homes, hotels, hospitals and cruise ships.
"Therefore in order to reduce its spread, the Trust is enforcing a strict visiting policy throughout its adult wards.
"This week the Trust has stopped admitting new patients onto a number of wards affected by norovirus and as of Thursday, December 10, 2009, new patients were not being admitted on to four wards.
"Normal services are continuing as usual in all other areas of the hospital."
Dr Ian Jones, medical director at the Trust, said: "Only two visitors per bed will be allowed during our visiting times of 3pm-4pm and 7pm-8pm and visitors are reminded to wash their hands when entering and leaving clinical areas.
"Furthermore, anyone with symptoms of infection, such as diarrhoea, vomiting or flu is requested not to visit.
"In common with other NHS trusts across the country we have robust action plans in place to deal with any surge in demand for services, particularly during the busy winter months when there is an increase in the prevalence of the virus within the community.
"Restricting new admissions to affected wards is part of our standard response to reducing its spread and to ensuring that patient safety is maintained.
"It also makes it possible for our staff to deal quickly with an outbreak and means that we can return our services to normal as soon as possible.
“We also closely monitor any patient with norovirus symptoms.
"Those with the virus are treated in isolation or alongside other patients with the condition to prevent its spread to other wards in the trust."
Noroviruses, or ‘winter vomiting viruses’, are the most common form of gasteroentertis (stomach bugs) in England and Wales and affect between 600,000 and one million people in the UK every year.
The viruses are easily transmitted from person to person, which can often lead to outbreaks particularly in semi-closed environments such as schools, hospitals, nursing homes and cruise ships.
Symptoms, which begin with sudden nausea followed by projectile vomiting and watery diarrhoea, start around 12 to 48 hours after infection and can last between 12 and 60 hours.
People can also suffer from a raised temperature, aching limbs and headaches.
There is no specific treatment other than drinking plenty of fluids.
Particularly vulnerable people, such as the elderly or very young, are prone to dehydration and should take extra care.
The most effective way to respond to an outbreak is to disinfect contaminated areas and isolate those infected for up to 48 hours after symptoms have ceased to avoid the risk of spreading it to others. To prevent the spread of norovirus infection:
* Wash hands thoroughly and regularly at all times, but particularly after toilet visits and before eating
* Do not handle or prepare food for other people until you have been symptom free for a minimum period of 48 hours
* Stay away from work or school until you have been free of symptoms for at least 48 hours
* Do not visit friends or relatives in hospitals or residential care homes as there is a real risk that you would introduce the infection to the establishment.
* Do not visit your GP surgery or local A&E Unit. Norovirus infection is a self-limiting illness and you will recover naturally without treatment.
It is, however, important to take plenty of drinks to replace lost fluids. If symptoms persist, phone NHS Direct on 0845 4647 or your family doctor for advice. THE GLOBE