Help prevent the spread of sickness bug
A HARD-HITTING campaign designed to stop the vomiting bug norovirus from spreading across Derbyshire has been set-up by the county's NHS services.
Hospital ward closures and outbreaks in schools are among common problems caused by the winter illness – which affects between 600,000 and one million people in the UK every year.
The stomach bug causes severe vomiting, diarrhoea and flu-like symptoms but is not usually dangerous, with most people making a full recovery within a couple of days.
But NHS chiefs said, because it was highly infectious, it was vital to make sure it did not spread to more vulnerable people – such as those with long-term health problems – as complications could develop.
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That is why the county's health services – including the NHS Southern Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group; Derby's hospital trust, Derbyshire Community Health Services; Derbyshire Healthcare; the Chesterfield Royal Hospital and East Midlands Ambulance Service – have come together to create their seasonal health alert campaign.
The main part of the drive is posters which will go on display in pharmacies, libraries, leisure centres, hospital and other prominent places.
Lynn Woods, chief nursing officer for NHS Southern Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: "We've come up with this poster because we believe it can hit any audience with a simple message.
"And that message is all about how people can stop the virus from spreading.
"The fact is, norovirus will come and it can cause lots of problems, particularly within the health system. But there are some very basic ways that it can be contained and we hope our campaign can educate people about what they can do."
Earlier this year, nine wards at Royal Derby Hospital were affected by an outbreak of norovirus, with one fully closed to new admissions and eight partly shut.
The Chesterfield Royal Hospital also closed its doors to visitors at one point last winter after the virus hit.
But Helen Forrest, lead nurse for infection prevention and control at Derby's hospitals, said one thing helping to stop the spread of infections was its award-winning inflatable Derby Door.
It was invented by senior hospital manager Paul Brooks last year and fits tightly against walls and ceilings to minimise infection risk.
Ms Forrest said: "Creating that seal is one way to stop the virus but there is plenty people can do themselves to prevent it from spreading.
"We hope this campaign can stop norovirus having a massive impact this winter."
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO CONTAIN NOROVIRUS
THERE is plenty the public can do to stop norovirus from spreading, according to the county's health experts.
NHS Southern Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group chief nursing officer Lynn Woods said the most basic thing was for people to make sure they were washing their hands frequently.
She said: "It sounds obvious but we cannot stress this message enough, as there will always be people who don't wash their hands after using the toilet or before preparing food."
Other ways to contain the virus include not sharing towels and flannels; always disinfecting surfaces an infected person has touched and staying at home, rather than going to hospital or a GP, when you are infected.
Instead, people should call their GP or the non-emergency NHS number 111.
Experts said symptoms could be eased by drinking plenty of water and fluids, taking paracetamol for any fever, aches and pains and eating foods which are easy to digest if you have an appetite.
But they said people should stay at home while unwell – and for 72 hours after symptoms disappear – before returning to work or going out in public.