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Norovirus outbreak: Scores sickened at Wansbeck General Hospital, linked to mussels

Norovirus – commonly referred to as the ‘winter vomiting bug’ – has arrived at sites across Northumberland and North Tyneside, according to Northumbria Healthcare NHS, to include an outbreak at Wansbeck General Hospital in Ashington.


At least 180 people have contracted norovirus after a visitor brought mussels into the hospital for an inpatient. This prompted officials to impose restrictions on visitors prior to Christmas.

Today it was announced that visitor restrictions are partially lifted for unaffected wards – visiting will be permitted for one hour from 14:00 to 15:00 and limited to two visitors per bed.

On affected wards, full restrictions will remain in place at all times.

At present the following are closed and will not be open to visitors today:

They remind people visiting open areas to remain vigilant with handwashing (soap and water – not alcohol gel). In addition, please do not visit if you have symptoms of norovirus or any respiratory or flu-like symptoms; you will only endanger yourself, our staff and your loved ones.

Norovirus is a highly contagious viral illness that often goes by other names, such as viral gastroenteritis, stomach flu, and food poisoning.

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The symptoms include nauseavomitingdiarrhea, and some stomach cramping. Sometimes people additionally have a low-grade fever, chills,headache, muscle aches, and a general sense of tiredness. The illness often begins suddenly, and the infected person may feel very sick. In most people, the illness is self-limiting with symptoms lasting for about 1 or 2 days. In general, children experience more vomiting than adults do.

Norovirus is spread person to person particularly in crowded, closed places. Norovirus is typically spread through contaminated food and water, touching surfaces or objects contaminated with norovirus and then putting your hand or fingers in your mouth and close contact with someone who is vomiting or has diarrhea.