A BLANKET visiting ban remains in effect at the Mid-Western Regional Hospital as the HSE attempts to contain an outbreak of the winter vomiting bug.
Staff were dealing with three cases of norovirus on Tuesday, down from a peak of seven since the visiting restrictions were imposed last Thursday.
The hospital is off-limits to all except approved visitors to critically ill patients and the parents and guardians of young patients in the Children’s Ark.
The violent stomach complaint can result in diarrhoea and projectile vomiting and is easily spread. It’s contagious nature means the advice from the HSE is that anybody who suspects they have norovirus should stay away from hospitals, nursing homes or other care settings and should not return to work or school until they have been well for at least two days.
“Norovirus does not usually cause serious illness but it is very easily spread. People who contract it can be infectious for 48 hours after they recover. The principal symptoms are nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea and generally begin very suddenly with nausea followed by projectile vomiting. A little later watery diarrhoea may develop as well,” commented a spokesman for the HSE.
“Symptoms will usually last only a day or two but can occasionally last longer. If you are concerned - for example prolonged vomiting or diarrhoea especially in small children and elderly people - telephone your GP for advice¸to reduce the possibility of bringing norovirus into the GP surgery.”
Limerick pharmacist John Gleeson also advised this week that people who suspect they have the illness should preferably ring their pharmacist for advice.
“We have certainly seen an increase in community pharmacy in the winter vomiting bug. You always have upset stomachs throughout the year but what we are seeing now is certainly more prevalent and more severe and very different from the standard upset stomach,” said Mr Gleeson, Woodview Pharmacy.
“We are emphasising the importance of trying to isolate the bug and minimising contact with people. People can always ring their local pharmacist who will be more than happy to give advice on symptomatic relief if not for the bug itself. The most important part of the therapy remains plenty of rehydration and rest,” he said.
He said that while patients had to endure a number of days of pain and discomfort while they attempt to flush out the bug itself, there were various over-the-counter drugs available to alleviate its symptoms.
Further information on prevention and treatment is available on the website of the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (www.hspc.ie).