AN OUTBREAK of a highly contagious virus has hit Ipswich Hospital.
One case of norovirus has been confirmed with five more patients, and one staff member, also exhibiting symptoms of the infection, which can cause severe vomiting and diarrhoea.
Ipswich Hospital executive director Luke Worth confirmed the cases today, flagging potential disruptions as the hospital tries to isolate the patients to stop the infection spreading.
"We are taking a range of steps to make sure that we keep the spread of the virus under control as far as possible," Mr Worth said.
"These include a temporary halt on new admissions to two wards to conduct the required cleaning and disinfecting regimes. We are also restricting the movement of patients between wards where possible.
"These precautions will remain in place until we see a reduction in the number of patients exhibiting Norovirus symptoms - usually within 48 to 72 hours.
"Norovirus is very transmissible, affects all ages, and lives in the environment, so despite these steps, further cases may occur."
Mr Worth said the restrictions may have some short-term effect on how quickly patients were seen when presenting to the hospital.
"Any temporary disruptions to new admissions can have a flow-on effect throughout the hospital, including at the Emergency Department," he said.
"We are working with our healthcare partners, Mater Springfield and Saint Andrews, as well as our rural hospitals to plan transfers of appropriate patients should that need arise - which it has not at present.
"We'd also encourage people not to come to the Emergency Department unless their complaint is of serious nature requiring urgent medical attention, but instead to use their general practitioner or the 13 HEALTH phone service."
According to Queensland Health the norovirus can be transmitted by touching surfaces or through direct or indirect contact with another person who is infected.
Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach cramping. The illness generally lasts for up to two days.
People can decrease their chance of coming into contact with norovirus by frequently washing their hands and disinfecting surfaces, particularly in shared spaces.
If you are concerned that you may have contracted Norovirus, more information is available from general practitioners and community health centres or by contacting 13HEALTH.