January 22, 2010 - Officials at the Health Unit are confirming facility wide outbreaks of gastrointestinal illness (GI) in four local long term care facilities: Bethammi Nursing Home, Dawson Court Home for the Aged, Pioneer Ridge and Thunder Bay Interim Long Term Care.
The Norovirus has been identified in three of the facilities and the Health Unit is awaiting test results on samples taken from the fourth facility.
Admissions, discharges, and transfers are restricted and visitors are limited to family and caregivers of residents. Please call the facility for further information.
Previously known as Norwalk-like virus, Norovirus causes gastrointestinal illness that occurs at intervals or in outbreaks. The most common symptoms include nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhea. The symptoms may be more severe for older persons, young children and those with underlying medical conditions. These groups are more vulnerable to dehydration which occurs because of vomiting and diarrhea. Individuals should get medical attention if the diarrhea is bloody and/or accompanied by a high fever or if the symptoms last longer than 72 hours.
Norovirus spreads easily through stool and vomit. It is usually spread from person-to-person through direct contact with fecally contaminated hands or by touching fecally contaminated objects, like door handles. Although the illness can occur at any time, it is most common during the months of October to April. People who have the virus can infect others while their symptoms are present and up to 2 days or more after the diarrhea has stopped.
Recovery usually takes 2 to 3 days and individuals are treated for the symptoms which includes rest and replacing lost fluids. Antibiotics are not effective because this is not a bacterial infection.
Although it is sometimes referred to as the “stomach flu,” this illness is not caused by the influenza or “flu” virus, and a flu shot will not protect against Norovirus.
The Health Unit reminds the public to prevent getting and spreading infections by:
- washing hands often for at least 15 seconds with soap and warm water, or by using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the upper sleeve.
- staying at home when ill to avoid spreading infections to others.
To access a fact sheet on this infection, please visit tbdhu.com/id and click on “Outbreaks in Institutions.” For more information, please call 625-8318.