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Spring may be on the way but staff at Southampton General Hospital say they're still struggling to deal with the winter vomiting bug.
Over the past week, there has been an increase in the number of cases of the well known winter vomiting bug in Southampton and the message from the local NHS is to keep it simple to avoid catching the bug by:
* Regularly wash your hands with soap and water
* Cleaning hard surfaces especially sinks and toilets with detergent followed by disinfection with household bleach solution.
* The bug can spread particularly easily in closed communities such as care homes, nurseries and schools, so everyone is advised to take care with hygiene at home and in the workplace.
Dr Graham Watkinson, public health consultant for the Southampton, Hampshire, Isle of Wight and Portsmouth PCT Cluster said: "Spring may be here but despite the warmer weather, norovirus is still prevalent in hospitals and in our local community. Spread of the norovirus infection is by contamination of hands, food, equipment and surfaces with infectious particles from vomiting or diarrhoea. The vomiting bug can be a serious illness and although most people can recover from resting at home and drinking plenty of fluids; it is causing some more vulnerable people to need hospital treatment."
If you do feel unwell it is important not to risk infecting others who may be vulnerable, as Graham explains: "If you get a tummy bug; do not visit hospitals or health facilities, such as your GP practice, as this increases the risk of spreading the infection to vulnerable patients and staff. It could also mean wards need to close."
"Norovirus can be more serious for some groups of people, especially for the young and elderly who are more generally unwell. If a baby or child is ill with either vomiting or flu-like symptoms and you have any concerns ring your GP or NHS Direct for advice."
Dr Graeme Jones, director of the infection prevention unit at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, said: "We are continuing to see a high number of patients presenting with the winter vomiting virus and remain under extreme pressure as we deal with a high level of admissions generally."
"While we are working hard to contain the spread of infection within hospital, levels remain high in the community and this is having a major impact on our ability to resolve the situation. For our control measures to work effectively it is vital that patients and their carers tell us if they have diarrhoea or have been exposed to anyone with diarrhoea in the last 72 hours."
If you're concerned about yourself or someone you care for who is suffering from the vomiting bug you should ring your GP. If you're not sure where to get help or whether you need to see a doctor call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47.