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Nine patients affected in Nanaimo Norovirus outbreak

Vancouver Island Health Authority discouraging visitors to the fifth floor of Nanaimo Regional General Hospital

With nine patients and six staff members displaying symptoms of a Norovirus, visitors are discouraged from heading to the fifth floor of Nanaimo Regional General Hospital.

The outbreak of the illness, which causes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and slight fever, was declared Tuesday following lab confirmation of the virus.

So far, it is contained to the fifth floor and no other areas of the hospital are affected.

The illness usually begins suddenly and lasts one to three days. It’s transmitted by contact – even indirectly – from contaminated hands and surfaces or droplets from infected persons’ vomit.

Although the gastroenteritis illness is more common in the winter, it’s not unusual to see an outbreak in summer. To reduce the risk of becoming ill, the Vancouver Island Health Authority recommends:

If you show symptoms, stay home. Unless a person is severely dehydrated, the illness can be treated at home;

Do not visit anyone in a hospital or care setting for at least 48 hours after symptoms subside;

If you are well and planning a visit to an infected facility, follow necessary infection control procedures, especially handwashing.

Norovirus is not confined to hospitals and can be transmitted at home, workplaces or other social gatherings. Thorough handwashing is most effective at preventing the spread of the virus.

If you are concerned you may have severe symptoms of the virus, contact your family doctor or call HealthLink BC at 811 for more information.