NHS SHETLAND is reminding the public to follow some simple steps to minimise the risk of the winter vomiting virus spreading within the population.
The health board said the first local cases of seasonal diarrhoea and vomiting, caused by norovirus, have now been confirmed.
Consultant in public health Dr Susan Laidlaw said that gastro-intestinal viruses, such as norovirus, could be spread easily from one person to another, especially among children.
She said: “There are steps we can all take to reduce the chance of catching norovirus and stop it spreading to other people.”
The most effective way is through regular and thorough hand washing and staying at home while ill, and for 48 hours after the symptoms had stopped, the health board advises.
Dr Laidlaw explained that washing hands with ordinary soap and water, especially after episodes of diarrhoea and vomiting and before eating, was crucial to prevent the virus from spreading.
“Alcohol-based hand washes and rubs are not very effective against norovirus so do not rely on them,” she added.
Children who are vomiting or with diarrhoea should not return to school or nursery for at least two days after the diarrhoea and/or vomiting had stopped, and as long as they are well enough in themselves.
“And they should also be kept away from parties, sports clubs and competitions and other after school activities and clubs,” the public health director said.
“We ask especially that anyone who is feeling off colour, or who has had these symptoms, not to visit the hospital or care centres until they are symptom-free for 48 hours.
“Norovirus can be particularly severe for someone who is already unwell in hospital and for older people”.
Norovirus is most common in the winter months but infections occur at any time. Other viruses cause the same symptoms, especially in children, and are managed in the same way.
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