Beware the winter vomiting bug

PEOPLE are being urged to maintain high levels of cleanliness to help prevent one of the festive season’s least welcome visitors putting a dampener on celebrations.

NHS North Essex has warned that the winter vomiting bug, Norovirus, has already made its seasonal appearance and is urging people to maintain tip-top cleanliness to minimise its spread.

Symptoms can begin suddenly and may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach-cramps, chills and muscle aches which tend to last for around 24 hours, although the bug may last for up to 48 hours in the body.

Alison Cowie, director of Public Health at NHS North Essex, said: “Norovirus is common in winter and can make vulnerable people, such as the elderly, very ill.

“It is extremely easy to pass on but simple steps can help to stop its spread, principally thorough and frequent hand washing – with particular emphasis on thorough drying as it is surprising how many germs can survive a hand-wash if not carried out thoroughly.

“If you catch the bug, you should stay at home and avoid visiting hospital or your GP surgery. People who are concerned and feel they need to talk to their GP about their condition are advised to telephone in the first instance. You should also avoid preparing food until at least 48 hours after the symptoms have gone.”

Anyone having trouble keeping fluids down or who believes any medication they are taking is being compromised can telephone their own GP or NHS Direct for advice on 0845 4647.

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People are reminded to frequently wash hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially after toilet visits and before eating or preparing food. Sharing eating utensils and drinking containers should be avoided.