FURTHER restrictions have been introduced to manage an outbreak of viral gastroenteritis - Norovirus – in Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton.
Four wards have now been closed to new admissions in an effort to combat the spread of the highly unpleasant infection.
The four are Coleridge, Eliot, Fielding, and Gould wards.
Last month, a similar Norovirus outbreak forced the closure of three wards, Eliot and Fielding, in the Duchess Building, and Ward Five in the old part of the hospital.
Norovirus exists in the community and although not usually serious, it is extremely infectious.
It is estimated that between 600,000 and one million people in the UK are affected each year.
Nursing homes, hospitals, and schools are particularly vulnerable to the virus, which can be spread by contact with an infected person or contaminated surfaces or objects.
Musgrove has detailed and well-established procedures to manage such outbreaks to minimise the risk of cross-infection.
Musgrove spokesman Mark Wall said: “Management of the outbreak is led by a specialist infection control team and other senior staff with ongoing review of the situation.
“To help reduce the risk of further Norovirus being brought into the hospital, visitors are asked not to visit if they have had symptoms of diarrhoea and vomiting or have been in contact with anybody who has in the past 48 hours.
“All visitors are asked to ensure that their hands are thoroughly cleaned before leaving a ward.
“If they are visiting a ward which has an outbreak of Norovirus, they should please not visit any other wards.
“If they are in any doubt about whether to visit or not, they should talk to the ward sister.”
Musgrove medical director Dr Cecil Blumgart said “We know visitors can make a real difference to patients, who look forward to seeing them.
“Unfortunately, we also know that without meaning to, visitors can bring bugs into the hospital which can cause harm to patients and once here are very difficult to control.
“There is also a small chance that visitors to affected wards may contract the virus and take it home.
“We are introducing these new measures to take a firmer grip on the Norovirus that we currently have in the hospital.
“People should not visit unless they really need to and if they do, must comply with these restrictions.”
Musgrove has more than 700 beds on 30 wards plus 15 operating theatres, and a fully-equipped diagnostic imaging department, and employs more than 4,000 staff.