HEALTH chiefs are urging people with possible symptoms of norovirus not to visit hospitals including Airedale.

NHS Yorkshire and the Humber says the highly contagious sickness and diarrhoea bug has already led to several recent ward closures across the region.

Norovirus is known as the winter vomiting bug because it's more common at this time of year, and national figures show the number of cases is rising.

Paul Twomey, regional medical director, said: "Although norovirus rarely requires medical treatment, for those who are already ill it can be more serious and makes it additionally complicated for us to provide care in the hospital.

"Most people will recover from the virus within a few days, but will remain carriers for some time after symptoms have disappeared.

"If you're feeling unwell, or actually have diarrhoea or vomiting, please don't come into hospital as a visitor for at least 48 hours after the last symptom has disappeared.

"Infection outbreaks in the community and in hospitals can happen quickly and self-treating at home is the best way to alleviate the potential of putting already-unwell people at further risk.”

Symptoms of norovirus can also include a slight fever, headaches, painful stomach cramps and aching limbs.

Anyone with concerns should call NHS 111 or their GP surgery for advice.

People can help reduce the chances of catching norovirus by washing their hands thoroughly with soap and water after using the toilet, or before touching or preparing food.