Residents are being urged not to go to hospital if they are suffering from the winter vomiting bug to stop the infection spreading.

Doctors at Epsom, Sutton and St Helier hospitals are asking local people not to visit the hospitals if they are suffering from winter-related viral infections in an effort to stop them spreading to other patients.

Norovirus is very infectious and outbreaks often occur in schools and offices. It can then be brought into hospital by patients and their visitors and has the ability to cause outbreaks on wards.

Dr Jonathan Kwan, the Trust’s Medical Director, said: "There has been a surge in the number of diarrhoea and vomiting outbreaks in London and Surrey and the suspected cause is likely to be norovirus.

“There is no particular treatment for norovirus so the public can help limit the spread by staying away from hospitals if they are unwell so that they don’t introduce the illness to our patients.

“Because norovirus spreads so easily, those with diarrhoea and vomiting should remain at home until 48 hours after symptoms have stopped. Personal hygiene must also be good so please make sure you wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before eating and after going to the toilet.”

The symptoms of norovirus infection usually start between 24 to 48 hours after the initial infection, although they can start after as little as 12 hours.

The first symptom is usually a sudden onset of nausea, which is followed by projectile vomiting and watery diarrhoea. Some people may also have a mild fever, headaches, stomach cramps, or aching limbs.

People who have the norovirus can expect the symptoms to go away within one to three days. If they are still feeling ill after this time, they should contact their GP or call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47 for advice.

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