Help stop the spread of seasonal infections

BORDERERS are being reminded to wash their hands to help prevent the spread of seasonal infections such as winter vomiting over the New Year period.

Every year, particularly when the weather gets colder, viruses like norovirus, colds, and flu are more common.

However, Dr Ed James, consultant microbiologist at the Borders General Hospital is reminding people that frequent hand washing and disposing of used tissues, can be the most effective way to help prevent the spread of these illnesses.

He said: “Norovirus - also known as winter vomiting disease - is highly infectious and can cause a very unpleasant but generally short-lived illness from which people will recover without treatment.

Norovirus can spread rapidly in communities such as hospitals, care homes, sheltered housing accommodation and schools which is why people should stay away from work or school until they have been free of symptoms for 48 hours.

Something as simple as washing your hands can go some way in preventing the spread of diseases. Hand washing after visiting the toilet and before eating are the particularly important times. Also it is good to get into the habit of using a hand washing technique similar to that used by hospital staff which cleans hands more effectively. People can see how to do this on the ‘washyourhandsofthem’ website at”

Dr James continued: “The main symptoms are vomiting and diarrhoea and unfortunately there is no specific treatment for norovirus apart from letting the illness run its course. Thankfully most people will make a full recovery within one to two days. If the illness persists for more than a few days.”

Consultant in public health for NHS Borders, Dr Tim Patterson, added: “The most common way germs are spread is by people’s hands. Germs are often harmless but they can also cause illnesses such as colds, flu, and tummy bugs. Washing your hands properly with soap and warm water, particularly after using the toilet, is the single most important thing you can do to help reduce the spread of infections and help protect you, your family and those around you.”