Monday, 29 October 2012
Public Health Wales is issuing a reminder that people suffering from diarrhoea or vomiting should not visit patients in hospital.
This follows an increase in the number of incidents of gastroenteritis affecting hospital patients and staff.
Anyone with symptoms of diarrhoea or vomiting should stay at home while they are unwell and for 48 hours afterwards to avoid spreading illness to other people.
It is particularly important that people who are unwell keep away from patients in hospitals and long-term care facilities as they may be at increased risk of contracting gastroenteritis. If they do contract it they may experience more severe symptoms and it may exacerbate their other health problems.
It is equally important that, if patients being admitted to hospital, or their household contacts, have been suffering from gastroenteritis within the last 48 hours, they should inform the admitting doctor.
Dr Marion Lyons, Director of Health Protection for Public Health Wales, said: “At any time of year, it is good advice to stay at home if you have diarrhoea or vomiting and not to return to work, school or to visiting patients in hospital until you have been free of symptoms for 48 hours.
“However we are particularly keen to issue this advice now as there have been several hospital outbreaks in Wales over the last few weeks that have closed wards, and further outbreaks could be avoided by people with stomach upsets keeping away from hospitals.
“Gastroenteritis is unpleasant but generally clears up within 24 to 48 hours. While many people tend to feel better sooner, illness can still be spread for around 48 hours after the last symptoms.
“If symptoms continue after 48 hours, it’s advisable to contact NHS Direct on 0845 46 47 or see your GP.”
Gastroenteritis can have several different causes but most can pass easily from person-to-person and outbreaks can be difficult to control in closed communities such as hospitals and nursing homes.
Although it is difficult to prevent outbreaks in the community, spread of gastroenteritis can be reduced by following these five steps if you have symptoms:
Careful handwashing is the most important preventative measure that you can take. Wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water and dry afterwards. Do not share towels
Use gloves when handling soiled articles from ill people. Wash soiled clothing and bed linen on ‘hot cycle’
If looking after someone with gastroenteritis, carefully disinfect toilet seats, flush handles, wash-hand basin taps and toilet door handles daily and after use. Use a bleach-based household cleaner, diluted according to the manufacturer’s instructions
Maintain good personal hygiene and hygienic preparation and serving of food
If you have symptoms, don’t return to school or work until you have been symptom-free for 48 hours. Don't visit vulnerable friends or family, especially patients in local hospitals and long-term care facilities
Because people with gastroenteritis are not advised to seek medical attention, Public Health Wales cannot routinely collect surveillance data on cases of gastroenteritis on cases in Wales and is unable to say how many cases are currently in the community.
More information on gastroenteritis is available from the Public Health Wales website at:
Source: Public Health Wales