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Patients being screened for vomiting bug; Interviews to tackle norovirus.

Byline: BY VICKY ANDERSON Daily Post Staff

HOSPITALS are conducting interviews with patients before admitting them on to Merseyside's wards in a big to stop the spread of norovirus.

Arrowe Park hospital has been forced to close one ward to new admissions after an outbreak of the "winter vomiting" bug, while the Royal Liverpool Hospital has had cases in seven wards, with 10 beds affected.

The Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen Hospital Trust said its 60-second interviews with arrivals at its hospitals had helped detect people who had suffered the virus.

Diane Wake, director of infection control, said: "We have not had to close any wards as a result of this virus thanks to action we have taken to reduce its spread.

"We currently have 10 bed bays in seven wards closed to new admissions.

"We are dealing with this quickly and effectively and getting any closed beds re-opened as soon as possible.

"To ensure staff are equipped to spot patients who might have the virus, we have developed a 60 second interview.

"This means anyone with the virus can be moved immediately into an isolation bed which, crucially, will help reduce the likelihood of transmission to other patients."

The Trust also made an appeal that anyone visiting the hospital should only do so if they are well and have no symptoms of the virus.

At Arrowe Park, Michael Monaghan, acting director of nursing and midwifery, said: "We closely monitor any patient with norovirus symptoms, which include unexplained vomiting or diarrhoea.

Those with the virus are treated in isolation or alongside others with the condition to prevent the spread to other wards in the trust.

"In addition, staff working on affected wards wear green surgical scrub suits rather than standard uniform, which are disposed of at the end of each shift. We also arrange additional domestic cover on the wards treating norovirus patients, to further prevent the spread of it."

The affected ward is not a maternity ward according to the Trust.

Southport and Ormskirk NHS Trust said it has not had any cases of norovirus but has a policy in place to immediately isolate anyone admitted to A&E with its symptoms.

The Health Protection Agency North West is urging people to help limit the spread of norovirus, stressing that anyone infected should avoid taking it into vulnerable areas such as GP surgeries, hospitals and care homes.

Dr Katy Elders, consultant in communicable disease control with the HPA's Cheshire and Merseyside Health Protection Unit, said: "The norovirus causes an unpleasant but generally short-lived illness that usually lasts about three days.

"There is no specific treatment other than rest and lots of drinks to replace lost fluids. People who are otherwise fit and healthy will make a full recovery without any medical intervention.

"It is therefore not necessary for people with norovirus infection to visit GP surgeries or hospital Accident and Emergency departments.

"If the symptoms persist, or seem to be getting worse, patients should phone NHS Direct, the 24-hour nurseled health advice service or ask for a telephone consultation with their GP.

"We also strongly advise people with the infection not to visit friends or relatives in hospitals or residential care homes and to stay away from work or school until they have been symptom free for at least 48 hours. Norovirus is highly infectious and it can spread rapidly in closed environments such as hospitals, residential care homes and schools."

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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jan 5, 2008
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