People are being asked to visit a West Highland hospital only if absolutely necessary because of the high prevalence of norovirus in the local community,
Management at the Belford Hospital in Fort William want people who have had symptoms of diarrhoea and vomiting to stay away from the hospital to prevent it spreading to patients and staff.
Anne Boyd-Mackay, rural general hospital manager, said: “We know norovirus is circulating in the community so we are taking every precaution and asking people who have had symptoms, or have been in close contact with anyone with symptoms, to restrict visiting unless absolutely necessary.
“We are requesting that visiting is strictly limited to emergency onl, but our staff will be more than happy to talk to visitors by phone.”
Norovirus, which causes diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting, can spread in the air where someone has had diarrhoea or has vomited, and is extremely difficult to contain. It may also spread by touching surfaces contaminated by the vomit or diarrhoea.
Dr Adam Brown, consultant microbiologist for NHS Highland, said: “We are asking people not to come to hospital to visit if they have had any vomiting or diarrhoea within the previous 48-hours. By doing this we will be able to limit the spread as much as possible.
“Hospital staff will, of course, be very happy to talk to visitors on the phone.”
There is no specific treatment for a norovirus infection and it is not usually necessary to visit a doctor.
It is best to stay at home, take paracetamol to relieve symptoms of any fever and to drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration.
People should also adhere to strict hand washing techniques with soap and water to reduce the spread of the virus.
Members of the public should be clear of symptoms for 48 hours before visiting someone in hospital.