Shoppers are being urged to wash their hands thoroughly after visiting the supermarket to try to halt the spread of the dreaded norovirus. Swansea Bay University Health Board said shoppers should be aware of the vast number of people handling trolleys every day, potentially carrying bugs and viruses.
It said: “Supermarket shopping trolley handles can be handled by hundreds of people every day.
“Please wash your hands thoroughly in soap and water when you get home, to reduce your risk of catching an infection like norovirus, and also colds or flu.”
Joanna Walters, the health board’s infection prevention and control matron, also warned people to wash their hands after touching “TV remote controls, your mobile phone, light switches, door handles” and not to “share towels with people in your household”.
The norovirus winter vomiting bug is highly contagious and can cause sickness, diarrhoea, painful stomach cramps, high temperatures or fever.
It has already hit areas of the UK since temperatures dropped with hundreds of people been struck down with the illness.
Health experts reported outbreaks causing hospital wards and entire schools to close.
Carnforth North Road Primary School in Lancashire was shut after 50 pupils and staff were reportedly struck down by norovirus and at a ward at Cannock Chase Hospital in Staffordshire visiting hours were restricted to just an hour a day due to an outbreak.
Similar restrictions were put in place at George Eliot Hospital in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, for four days and doctors told patients norovirus was “doing the rounds” in Hull and East Yorkshire.
Rock Ferry Primary School in Wirral also closed last month after a norovirus outbreak meant over 100 children were taken ill. Large numbers of staff were also affected
Most people get over it within a day or two but the very young, elderly and those who have weakened immune systems can suffer for longer.
A Public Health England spokeswoman said: “The virus is easily transmitted through contact with infected individuals from one person to another.
“Outbreaks are common in semi-enclosed environments such as hospitals, nursing homes, schools and cruise ships and can also occur in restaurants and hotels.
“The virus is usually mild and lasts for one to two days.”