Limerick hospital bans visits to combat vomiting bug
A blanket ban on visitors has been introduced at one of the State’s busiest hospitals, in an effort to contain the spread of the winter vomiting bug.
Six cases of norovirus were confirmed at the Mid-Western Hospital in Limerick yesterday, where a full visiting ban is in effect until further notice.
The HSE announced the ban on visitors “in the interests of patient care and as a precaution”. Visiting to all wards at the hospital is prohibited, with the exception of agreed visits to critically ill patients.
Incidence of the winter vomiting bug showed a marked decrease in the last week of 2012, latest official figures show. However, many cases in the community are not reported to the authorities.
A spokesman for the Health Protection Surveillance Centre, which records incidence of infectious diseases, said the number of reported cases was down from 130 in the second week of December to 67 the following week. Reports declined to 29 in the last week of the month.
Separately, the centre reported an influenza rate of 35.7 cases per 100,000 of the population in the last week of December, which was not a significant increase on the two previous weeks or on last year.
The Health Protection Surveillance Centre said that in the 2011- 2012 season, incidence of flu peaked at between 50 and 60 cases per 100,000 of population.
Cork-based GP Dr Ronan Boland said he had seen very little incidence of “true” flu in his own practice in recent weeks. There had, however, been a very high prevalence of winter-vomiting bug- type illness in the weeks leading up to Christmas. This had since “fallen off”.
Anyone with symptoms of the winter vomiting bug should not visit a doctor’s surgery or a hospital as it was “highly infectious”. It was just a case of staying hydrated and waiting for the bug to pass, Dr Boland said.
Upper respiratory infections
He had recently, he added, seen a high level of upper respiratory infection, manifesting itself in heavy cough and cold symptoms.
In many cases, particularly those involving children, it was a case of reassuring parents that the child’s cough was not a problem requiring treatment.
Dr Boland said GPs would seek to “manage expectations” with regard to treating such viral illness, which would not respond to antibiotics.
He said some of the public health information messages with regard to overuse of antibiotics appeared to be getting through to people.