Dozens of members of staff and patients at a hospital in Burton have been hit by the winter vomiting bug, throwing attempts to control an outbreak of the disease in the local area into chaos.
The Burton Mail has told how the Queen's Hospital in the town is the centre of a Norovirus epidemic, with the contagious infection spreading through the wards. In total, ten staff and 50 patients are now believed to have caught it.
In comparison, November 20th to December 20th last year saw just 11 cases of the bug recorded at the hospital, but that has increased drastically in 2012. Symptoms of the Norovirus include vomiting, diarrhoea and nausea, while abdominal pain can last as long as five days.
Chief nurse Sandra Orton said: "Norovirus is widespread in the community and we would urge anyone with symptoms, no matter how slight, to think twice before coming to the hospital. It's more important than ever to observe hand hygiene procedures because we cannot stress too much how contagious this bug is."
With so many cases of the infection being reported all over the UK, it could be the ideal time for hospitals - and other public buildings - to review their hygiene procedures. This could involve adding cleaning products to the tools that are available to staff.
It is believed that about 900,000 people in England have been infected this winter, with the Queen's Hospital reacting by closing beds in three of its wards as early as October. A period of deep cleaning was carried out by hospital bosses after they detected the bug, which could be the best way to tackle it.
The Norovirus can put immense pressure on hospital resources, as once beds are shut in a bid to control the bug others must be found elsewhere to relieve the strain. In the case of Queen's, extra beds in the Geoffrey Hodges wing had to be used.