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Help reduce the spread of bugs this winter

Tuesday, 21 October, 2014
Help reduce the spread of bugs this winter

Nurses from Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust are out and about across Northumberland and North Tyneside this week to raise awareness among people about what they can do to help reduce the spread of bugs this winter.

As part of International Infection Prevention Week 2014 which runs until 25 October, the trust’s infection control team is going to libraries and having information stands at hospitals to educate people about norovirus – often known as the ‘winter vomiting virus’ – and seasonal flu and their role in helping to prevent their spread.

Norovirus is a very common gastrointestinal virus which causes diarrhoea and vomiting. It is highly infectious and spreads rapidly in hospitals and care homes at any time of the year, however, particularly during the winter.

A key part of Northumbria Healthcare’s campaign is that it is everyone’s responsibility to help control the spread of the virus and that people with symptoms of diarrhoea or vomiting should not visit loved ones in hospital to prevent the virus from affecting patients.

And trust staff will also be stressing the importance of good hand hygiene in helping to control the spread of bugs during the winter and throughout the year.

Diane Sisterson, lead infection prevention and control nurse at Northumbria Healthcare, said: “Bugs are around at any time of the year however winter is traditionally the time when instances of norovirus increase in the community. It is therefore really important that everyone plays their part to reduce the spread of the virus, which is highly infectious, and other winter bugs.

“The most important thing you can do if you’re feeling unwell and experiencing symptoms of diarrhoea or vomiting is not to visit loved ones in hospital or in care homes until you have been clear of any symptoms for 48 hours. This will help prevent the virus spreading to patients, many of whom could be frail and elderly.

“We would urge people to come along and talk to us to find out more about what they can do to help reduce the spread of bugs this winter.”

Today (Tuesday 21 October) trust staff will be giving advice on aspects of infection control and demonstrating good hand hygiene techniques in Cramlington library from 9am to 11am. On Thursday (23 October) they’re in Ashington library from 10am to 1pm, Blyth library from 2pm to 4pm and North Shields library from 10am to noon and 1pm to 4pm. On Friday (24 October) they’re in Morpeth library from 10am to 1pm and Wallsend library from 1pm to 4pm.

Members of the infection control team will be outside the canteen at Wansbeck General Hospital today (Tuesday 21 October) from 9.30am to 1.30pm and in the main entrance of Hexham General Hospital on Wednesday (22 October) from 9.30am to 1.30pm.

Washing hands thoroughly with soap and water is the single most important thing people can do to help to reduce the spread of infections such as norovirus. It is especially important that people wash their hands with soap and water thoroughly after contact with someone who is suffering from winter vomiting virus. People who are ill themselves and suffering from sickness and diarrhoea should also wash their hands regularly and thoroughly. 

Hand washing should be always be done as a matter of routine:

  • Before eating or handling food
  • After using the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
  • After touching animals or animal waste
  • After handling rubbish
  • After changing a nappy
  • Before and after touching an unwell or injured person
  • Before and after visiting a care home or hospital ward

Anyone who is suffering from norovirus symptoms such as sickness and diarrhoea can be best treated by staying at home, drinking plenty of fluids and getting some rest while the virus runs its course. If the symptoms persist for more than a few days, people are advised to telephone their doctor or NHS 111 or visit for online advice.