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Thursday, 27 November 2014

Hospital ward closed after flu outbreak

THE Copeland Unit at West Cumberland Hospital is currently closed to admissions, and visiting has been restricted, due to a seasonal flu outbreak.

Twelve patients and six members of staff are currently experiencing symptoms. The closure of the unit to new admissions is to ensure the flu does not spread further. All patients and vulnerable staff groups have been offered the antiviral ‘tamiflu’.

Influenza, or ‘flu’, is a respiratory illness – the symptoms include headaches, fever, sore throat, aching muscles and joints. According to the Health Protection Agency, flu is most common between December and March (in the Northern hemisphere). New strains and variants of flu are constantly emerging, which is one of the reasons why the flu vaccine should be given every year.

Copeland Unit is designed for patients who have already been in hospital and need further care and rehabilitation before discharge. It is provided by Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

Joanna Forster Adams, deputy director of operations for Cumbria Partnership, said: “We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause. However this temporary closure to admissions will allow us to deal with the outbreak effectively and ensure patient safety.”

Dr Nigel Calvert, an associate director of public health for Cumbria, added: “Flu can be serious and cause serious health complications in people with existing health conditions. This includes children and adults with existing conditions from diabetes to cancer, pregnant women, where both mother and baby can be at risk, and people aged 65 and over.

"The best way people can protect themselves is by having the flu vaccine. It's freely available for people in at-risk groups and it only takes a few minutes, which is worth it to stop you getting what can be a nasty illness.

“For others who are normally fit and healthy who catch the bug, the best advice is, for them to stay at home. Take simple over-the-counter flu remedies will help to ease symptoms, and by combining these with plenty of rest and fluids they should be feeling better in about a week.

“However, if anyone’s symptoms continue to worsen they should telephone NHS Direct or their GP surgery.

“To ensure others do not pass on the virus, there are simple rules: Catch It! Bin It! Kill It! Always use a tissue to catch sneezes and blow your nose, dispose of it straight away and then wash your hands. It really is that simple.”

Anyone who has any questions or concerns about patients are asked to contact the Copeland Unit on 01946 693181.

For more information about seasonal flu visit the Health Protection Agency Website http://www.hpa.org.uk/Topics/InfectiousDiseases/InfectionsAZ/SeasonalInfluenza/

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