Nurses to raise awareness about reducing the spread of bugs this winter

Nurses will be raising awareness about how to reduce the spread of bugs this winter.
Nurses will be raising awareness about how to reduce the spread of bugs this winter.

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

As part of International Infection Prevention Week 2015, which runs from October 18 to 24, members of the trust’s infection, prevention and control team will be at supermarkets and hospitals across the area educating people about norovirus – known as winter vomiting virus – and seasonal flu and everyone’s role in helping to prevent their spread.

The team will be giving advice at the following venues:

○ Tuesday, October 20: The Northumbria hospital restaurant, Cramlington, 9.30am–12.30pm; Asda, Ashington, 10am–2pm.

○ Wednesday, October 21: Wansbeck General Hospital main entrance and restaurant, 9.30am–12.30pm; Asda, Tweedmouth, 10am–2pm; Blyth Community Hospital main entrance, 1.30pm–4.30pm.

○ Thursday, October 22: North Tyneside General Hospital main entrance and outside restaurant, 9.30am–12.30pm; Asda, Benton, 1.30pm–4pm.

○ Friday, October 23: Shiremoor resource centre, 10am–noon; Asda, Cramlington, 10am–2pm.

Norovirus is a very common gastrointestinal virus which causes diarrhoea, vomiting and abdominal cramps with the number of cases traditionally increasing during the winter months.

Although norovirus is a self-limiting disease usually lasting 12 to 72 hours and is rarely serious, even in the elderly or the very young, it is highly-infectious and spreads rapidly in care homes and hospitals.

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 next week 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, and urging people eligible to have a free seasonal flu vaccination to do so.

Susan Besbrode, infection prevention and control nurse at Northumbria Healthcare, said: “It is important that everyone plays their part in helping to reduce the spread of bugs this winter. While bugs are around at any time of the year, winter is traditionally the time when instances of norovirus increase in the community and as it is highly infectious, can spread rapidly.

“It is therefore vital that anyone who is feeling unwell and has symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhoea does not visit their loved one in a care home or hospital until they have been symptom-free for at least 48 hours.

“We would urge people to come and see us when we’re out and about across Northumberland and North Tyneside to find out more about what they can do to help reduce the spread of bugs.

“By taking some simple preventative measures, such as good hand washing and people who are eligible to have a seasonal flu vaccination to have their jab, we can all play our part in helping to protect the more vulnerable members of society.”

In 2015/16, the following groups are eligible to receive the flu vaccination and people should contact their GP or pharmacist:

○ those aged 65 years and over

○ those aged six months to under 65 in clinical risk groups

○ pregnant women

○ all two, three and four-year-olds (on August 31, 2015)

○ all children of school years 1 and 2 age

○ those in long-stay residential care homes

○ carers

○ primary school-aged children in areas that previously participated in primary school pilots in 2014/15.

Washing hands thoroughly with soap and water is the single most important thing people can do to help to reduce the spread of infections like norovirus and flu and should 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

○ Regularly if you are unwell and suffering from sickness and diarrhoea

○ 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 it course.

Advice is always available online from NHS Choices or by calling 111.