Health roadshow warns of nasty bug

A SERIES of roadshows took place during December to raise public awareness to keep Northumberland residents, especially the elderly and vulnerable, healthy.

The Northumbria Community Infection Control Team has been educating people as they toured around the county with leaflets, advice and guidance on how to reduce the spread of norovirus.

Their main focus has been on the elderly population, due to their vulnerability to the virus and the likelihood of hospital admission, although norovirus affects people of all ages.

Norovirus, known as the winter vomiting disease, is a very common gastro virus affecting an estimated 4.5 per cent of the population.

Outbreaks of the illness are common as it spreads very easily from person to person, particularly within contained environments such as care homes and schools.

The virus is present all year round but incidents increase during winter months.

Symptoms include diarrhoea, vomiting, and abdominal cramps, which usually last 24 to 72 hours. It is rarely serious, even in the elderly or very young; however it is extremely contagious, spreading rapidly through communities and places where people congregate.

Councillor Ian Lindley, executive member for adult health care and wellbeing at Northumberland County Council said: “Norovirus is a particularly nasty bug which can create problems to our most vulnerable residents, particularly those who have long term medical conditions.

“We can all do our bit to reduce or stop the spread of this virus by making sure we follow basic hygiene rules. The infection control team has worked in partnership with GPs, Health Protection Agency, local authorities and also independent and voluntary sectors including residential care home workers.

“Wiltshire Farm foods has also kindly agreed to distribute information leaflets along with their pre-prepared meals. Hopefully we can all play a part in keeping communities healthy in 2012.”

More information about Norovirus can be found on NHS choices website and search norovirus. NHS direct is open 24 hours a day and can give help and advice to people 0845 4647.