South Tyneside District Hospital has been put on alert after a suspected outbreak of the winter vomiting bug at the site.
One ward has had to be closed to new patients after staff began to treat an increased numbers of patients with suspected Norovirus - showing symptoms of diarrhoea and vomiting, in recent days.
Norovirus causes an unpleasant illness with the main symptom vomiting, sometimes accompanied by diarrhoea, while some people may have a raised temperature and experience headaches and aching limbs.
There is no specific treatment and the illness just has to run its course.
Currently, ward 19 at the hospital, an elderly care ward, has been closed to new patients.
Hospital chiefs say that they have seven patients with symptoms of the virus at the facility.
“We are monitoring all ward areas so if any more cases do occur we can respond quickly to prevent transmission to other patients, staff and visitors.”Dr Shaxz Wahid
Dr Shaz Wahid, South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust’s medical director, said: “Norovirus is the most common cause of infectious gastroenteritis in the country and is, generally, mild, however, we must protect our vulnerable patients.
“Our infection prevention and control team are working with ward staff to minimise the spread of the disease and we have put the appropriate measures in place.
“We are monitoring all ward areas so if any more cases do occur we can respond quickly to prevent transmission to other patients, staff and visitors.
“In the interests of patient safety we are also appealing to all visitors, including patients’ relatives, who have had the bug to stay at home and not come to the hospital until they have been free of symptoms for 48 hours.
“This will help to reduce the number of opportunities for Norovirus to spread to vulnerable patients and to our staff who care for them.”
People who think they may be showing symptoms of Norovirus are being advised stay at home and try to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids.
If symptoms persist, ask for a telephone consultation with your family doctor.
Try to avoid visiting GP surgeries or local A&E as this may pass the infection on to others.
Do not visit friends or relatives in hospitals or residential care homes until you have fully recovered and have been free of symptoms for at least 48 hours to avoid putting vulnerable people at risk.
Stay away from work or school until you have fully recovered and have been free of symptoms for 48 hours.