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Bug forces ward closures in two northern hospitals

Raigmore Hospital
Raigmore Hospital

Two Highland hospitals have simultaneously been hit by a vomiting bug that has forced the closure of wards.

The Belford in Fort William yesterday closed Ward 1 as a precaution after six patients experienced symptoms of diarrhoea and vomiting.

A halt was called to new admissions and visiting was being kept to a minimum.

The hospital’s rural general manager Marie Law confirmed that tests were being carried out to check if norovirus was present.

“We know it’s circulating in the community, so we are taking every precaution with this ward until we know whether or not the patients are positive for norovirus,” she said.

“We are requesting that visiting is strictly limited to emergency only, but our staff will be more than happy to talk to visitors by phone.”

Two wards at Raigmore Hospital remained closed due to norovirus with visiting there also being kept to a minimum.

Ward 6C, which was closed to new admissions and transfers on November 12, remained closed with eight patients having symptoms of diarrhoea and/or vomiting. Four Raigmore patients have tested positive for norovirus.

The ITU ward was closed to new admissions and transfers on Tuesday after two patients tested positive for norovirus.

Norovirus, which causes diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting, can spread in the air where someone has had diarrhoea or has vomited and is difficult to contain. It may also spread by touching contaminated surfaces.

NHS Highland consultant microbiologist Jonty Mills said: “As well as restricting visiting to the affected wards we are asking people not to come to the 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 happy to talk to visitors on the phone.”

There is no specific treatment for a norovirus infection. It is not usually necessary to visit a doctor.

The best course of action is to stay at home, take paracetamol to relieve symptoms of any fever and 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.

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