December 23, 2005
Blackpool Today

A HOSPITAL ward has been closed after patients and staff were struck down by a virus.

Bosses at Blackpool Victoria Hospital have blocked all new admissions to bWard 11 after an outbreak of vomiting and diarrhoea.

Families were told to stay away in a bid to stop the disease
believed to be the Norwalk Norovirus – from spreading.

A total of 16 patients and 10 staff are currently affected by the virus, which is highly contagious and lasts between 24 and 48 hours.

Hospital bosses also said there had been a number of isolated cases on other wards.

A spokeswoman for the Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre NHS Hospitals Trust, said:
“The trust has taken the precautionary action of restricting admissions to some wards following a number of cases of a diarrhoea and vomiting bug.
The bug is extremely common at this time of year.

“As a precautionary measure the trust is restricting new admissions to the affected wards to stop the infection from spreading. Visitors are also advised not to attend any of the Fylde’s hospitals if they are showing symptoms of diarrhoea and vomiting.”

Kath Roberts, lead nurse for infection control, added: “This is a virus which is extremely common in the community at this time of year.

“If visitors are ill or have family members with diarrhoea and vomiting we would ask them not to visit our hospitals unless absolutely necessary until they have been clear for 48 hours.”

All patient transfers on Ward 11 have also been suspended. Access to the ward was restricted after the infection began to spread on Friday.

The Norovirus is the same disease that forced four wards to close this time last year. Wards seven, 15, 19 and 25 were affected, which caused 11 staff and 23 patients to fall ill over Christmas.

Norovirus – also known as Norwalk – is highly contagious. Its main symptom is vomiting, usually accompanied by diarrhoea. It can prove serious for the very young, frail and elderly.