People in Leeds are being asked to avoid going to hospital if they have caught the diarrhoea and vomiting bug as well as symptoms of cold and flu.
The advice has been issued by the local NHS in an effort to reduce the spread of minor illnesses which can have a significant impact on the delivery of local healthcare services. In recent weeks there has been a rise in cases of minor illnesses in Leeds which has led to the appeal for people to steer clear of hospital and call NHS 111 instead. Alternatively people can speak to their GP or community pharmacists who could be able to provide over the counter remedies.
The three clinical commissioning groups in Leeds, (NHS Leeds North CCG, NHS Leeds South and Leeds CCG, NHS Leeds West CCG) are raising awareness of the illnesses which affect more than one million people nationally each year. Though deemed a minor illness, the diarrhoea and vomiting bug is the biggest cause of infectious gastroenteritis in the UK. It is more likely to spread in places where people are in close proximity to one another such as hospitals, schools and nursing homes.
Matt Storey, Urgent Care Programme Manager for Leeds CCGs, said: “Norovirus is common at this time of year and is a particularly unpleasant bug which causes sickness and diarrhoea. The challenge to reduce the spread of the bug in the community is a tough one because it is highly infectious and passes easily from person to person, particularly in the winter months when people are likely to spend longer together indoors. The challenge becomes even tougher when other highly unpleasant illnesses associated with this time of year such as the flu and general coughs and colds start to spread too.
“Hospitals are also reporting an increase in the number of people coming in looking for treatment because of the common cold or flu-like symptoms. Again we would advise people to only use A&E when it really is a life threatening illness or injury. A well stocked medicine cabinet coupled with plenty of rest should do the trick. Of course before taking any medication people should read the information leaflet or speak to a healthcare professional such as their local pharmacist.”
The simple steps that can be taken to reduce the spread of diarrhoea and other bugs are:
Wash your hands
Wash your hands with antibacterial soap and water, particularly before eating and after going to the toilet. Avoid preparing food for other people but if you really have to, make sure you wash your hands and thoroughly clean fruit and vegetables before cooking.
Stay at home
Generally there is no need to visit your GP or local hospital unless a medical professional has advised you to. If you or a relative is experiencing sickness and diarrhoea, drink plenty of fluids and try to eat foods that are easy to digest such as soup, bread, pasta and rice. Babies should be given their normal feed.
People at risk
Children and older people can be more severely affected by Norovirus. If you are concerned about yours or a friend or relative’s symptoms then contact NHS 111 or visit the NHS website.
Avoid hospital visits
People in hospital are already ill and may be more severely affected if they get the diarrhoea and vomiting bug because it can stop some medicines from working properly. If you or a close friend, work colleague or relative has experienced sickness or diarrhoea in the last 72 hours then it is essential to avoid visiting the hospital.
Don’t go to work
Don’t go to work until at least 48 hours after the symptoms have stopped. Before this time you are still contagious and could pass the illness on to your colleagues.
Kill remaining bacteria
Do your laundry on a 60 degree centigrade cycle to get rid of any bacteria lingering on clothing and bedding. Also remember to disinfect toilets, basins, sinks and door handles regularly with an antibacterial household cleaning product.
Hygiene information and details of preventative measures can be found through the ‘catch it bin it kill it’ campaign.