Monday, May 17, 2010

NRGH Norovirus Outbreak Hospital Wide


No Visitors Allowed During Outbreak

The Nanaimo Regional General Hospital as of Friday May 14 declared a hospital-wide outbreak of norovirus.  Norvirus outbreaks had previously been declared on various units.

Over the last week all new cases in the hospital have been the result of exposure to patients with Norovirus coming into the Emergency Department and exposing other patients.  As a consequence, the infection is being constantly re-introduced into the hospital.  This poses a risk to inpatients who are often frail and already admitted with other medical conditions.  As well, many staff can get sick, which may compromise our ability to provide care to sick patients. 

There are currently 22 patients with symptoms in the hospital.  While the hospital has been successful in halting transmission, all four patients who became ill today were exposed in the Emergency Department.
 
Visitors are being restricted to the hospital, except for palliative reasons.  VIHA is asking for the public’s assistance in postponing visits until after the Norovirus has been declared over.

Norovirus is highly contagious; up to 50 percent of people exposed go on to develop symptoms.  Norovirus causes sudden onset of one or more episodes of nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea with or without abdominal pain and tenderness. The incubation period is 24-48 hours, and the illness lasts between one and three days. There is no vaccine or medicine that can prevent Norovirus.
 

The virus does not start in hospitals, but circulates in the community and is brought into health care facilities from the community.  It can be transmitted in any setting such as home, school, the workplace, or any place where people gather - so it spreads rapidly in health care facilities. 
  
People who develop gastrointestinal symptoms should remain home for at least 48 hours after their symptoms have resolved. Thorough hand washing with soap and warm running water is the most effective way to prevent spread. 

Individuals who suspect they may have Norovirus-like symptoms should call their family doctor or the 24-hour BC Health Guide Nurse Line at 8-1-1 for help in determining the nature and urgency of their medical condition   In healthy individuals, this type of virus can be managed at home with fluid replacement and rest. If however, a person becomes severely dehydrated, they should seek emergency care.

VIHA has posted a tip sheet on line with information on how to maintain fluid levels to avoid dehydration. The tips apply equally to children and adults. It is available using this LINK.

More information about Norovirus is available using either of these links, LINK 1, LINK 2.

Active outbreaks by facility are available at this LINK.

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