We saw a very active norovirus season last fall and winter, especially in the U.K., and as the season begins this year there are already reports of disease once again. At least two U.K. hospitals currently have patients with norovirus, causing the wards to adapt their policies (the red dots on the map). Two hospitals in a particularly hard-hit area last time are also taking up arms with a strategy to prevent the spread of the virus this year (located in the area with the orange dot). You can catch up on the last U.K. norovirus season and its aftermath on our blog.
The Tandridge Ward at East Surrey Hospital in Redhill (the southernmost dot) has been closed to visitors since September 25th. While the hospital staff did not want to enact the change, they decided it was the best course of action to protect their patients, visitors, and personnel.
Ward Nine at Dundee’s Ninewells Hospital (the northernmost dot) is now closed to new admissions following several cases of vomiting and diarrhea that are assumed to be norovirus. The hospital is also urging people who have norovirus-like symptoms or are ill to not visit friends and family in the hospital until at least 48 hours after feeling better.
Starting October 1st, the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust (an overarching administrative group within the U.K.’s National Health System) is going to isolate patients with norovirus in specific wards in two of their hospitals: the Worcestershire Royal Hospital and the Alexandra Hospital (the orange dot). Visiting hours are also being restricted to decrease the chances for introducing the virus. Norovirus might not be there yet, but if and when it arrives, the goal is for it to be quickly contained. The Trust has good reason, as last year’s norovirus ordeal and the flood of patients cost them 2.3 million pounds (or roughly 3.7 million U.S. dollars today).
Norovirus is a costly disease, not only from the standpoint of medical treatment for those who need it, but from consequences such as people having to stay home from work and from the extra precautions for affected hospitals and other areas. We can do our part in disease prevention by simple actions such as handwashing and avoiding contact with others if we become sick. For proper handwashing guidelines, see the CDC’s hand washing website.
East Surrey Hospital, Sept. 26
Ninewells, Sept. 25
Worcestershire, Sept. 26