Two wards have been closed to new admissions at Staffordshire's biggest hospital because of an outbreak of norovirus.
Patients on the two elderly care wards within the West Building are being treated for the stomach bug which causes sickness and diarrhoea.
Visitors are still allowed onto the two wards at the Royal Stoke University Hospital.
But they are being asked to follow 'stringent handwashing' rules and be symptom-free of any sickness for 48 hours.
The norovirus outbreak comes as the under-pressure hospital regularly has up to 200 medically-fit patients blocking beds because there are no care packages in place for them.
Royal Stoke chief executive Paula Clark said:
So what should you do if you think you have the virus?
The Health Protection Agency has issued fresh guidance to the public following a recent increase in the number of cases Norovirus in the UK.
- A feeling of sickness following by forceful vomiting and watery diarrhoea.
- A raised temperature
- Headaches or stomach cramps
- Aching limbs
- Sufferers can become dehydrated.
- The symptoms normally clear up in 1-2 days.
The NHS advises that businesses should introduce hand sanitiser into office environments and that all workers should wash their hands thoroughly especially before eating.
Family members are not advises to visit elderly relatives if they have recently suffered from norovirus, especially if they are in hospital or staying in residential care homes.
How to combat the virus:
- Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
- If you feel like eating, eat foods that are easy to digest.
- Take paracetamol for any fever or aches and pains.
- Stay at home and don't go to the doctor, because norovirus is contagious and there is nothing the doctor can do while you have it.
- However, contact your GP to seek advice if your symptoms last longer than a few days or if you already have a serious illness.