Island Health is warning of an outbreak of norovirus at West Coast General Hospital in Port Alberni. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

Norovirus outbreak at Vancouver Island hospital

First suspected case came to West Coast General in Port Alberni on Dec. 31

West Coast General Hospital in Port Alberni has been hit with a norovirus outbreak.

The first suspected case came to the hospital on Dec. 31, and Island Health put signs up in the hospital advising of an outbreak of an “infectious illness” and that visitors “may wish to delay visiting at this time.”

As of Jan. 2, there were three confirmed cases and five suspected cases. An outbreak is declared when there are three or more potential cases, Island Health spokesperson Maribeth Burton said.

Norovirus is a group of viruses that cause acute gastroenteritis, an infection of the digestive tract. Outbreaks are more common in the winter, according to HealthLinkBC, and they affect B.C. communities every year.

Norovirus usually occurs within one to two days of being exposed, and causes an upset stomach, vomiting and/or diarrhea. Other symptoms can include nausea, cramping, chills and fever. It begins suddenly and lasts between one and three days.

There is no medicine for norovirus — antibiotics don’t work on viruses. Anyone sickened with it advised to drink clear fluids to prevent dehydration.

Washing your hands, especially after using the toilet, changing diapers or before eating or preparing food, is the best way to prevent getting norovirus. The virus is spread in vomit and feces of people who have the virus, and can be spread on surfaces like sink taps or countertops.

All units remain open to visitors at WCGH, although the hospital is taking extra measures.

“We are asking visitors to stay home if they are sick,” Burton said. “People who do visit the hospital are asked to practice excellent hand hygiene and to keep visits short.”

Staff who are ill have been instructed not to report back to work until 48 hours after all symptoms have cleared, which is standard outbreak protocol.

“There are added cleaning measures in place at the hospital,” she added.

West Coast General was the only facility experiencing a norovirus outbreak on Vancouver Island as of Jan. 2.

Check out Island Health’s active outbreak list and see the Frequently Asked Questions about infection prevention control.

editor@albernivalleynews.com

Just Posted

Glory for Fernie Ghostriders in four-point weekend

Riders back at home on January 25-26 for games against the Kimberley Dynamiters and Nelson Leafs

Crowsnest Pass RCMP seek help locating missing man

58-year-old Stuart David Duff was last seen on Jan. 6, 2019.

Spike in Jaffray bear calls cause for concern

In 2018 there were 38 calls about bears spotted in the Jaffray area, compared to one call in 2017.

Snow on the way for Elk Valley

Winter weather advisory issued for East Kootenay with up to 15cm of snow expected over the next week

Snow removal still an issue for mobility challenged in Fernie

Disability advocate sees little improvement in sidewalk clearing; City promises to review policy

Students seen mocking Native Americans could face expulsion

One 11-minute video of the confrontation shows the Haka dance and students loudly chanting

B.C. VIEWS: Fact-checking the NDP’s speculation tax on empty homes

Negative-option billing is still legal for governments

May plans next move in Brexit fight as chances rise of delay

Some say a lack of action could trigger a ‘public tsunami’

Group challenges ruling for doctors to give referrals for services that clash with beliefs

A group of five Canadian doctors and three professional organizations is appealing

Major winter storm wreaks havoc on U.S. travel

Nearly 5,000 flights were cancelled Sunday around the country

Fernie film festival tickets selling fast

Local links to films, shorts featured in 11th annual Reel Canadian Film Festival lineup

CONSUMER REPORT: What to buy each month in 2019 to save money

Resolve to buy all of the things you want and need, but pay less money for them

Want to avoid the speculation tax on your vacant home? Rent it out, Horgan says

Premier John Horgan and Sheila Malcolmson say speculation and vacancy tax addresses homelessness

UPDATE: B.C. woman and boy, 6, found safe, RCMP confirm

Roseanne Supernault says both she and her six-year-old nephew are fine and she has contacted police

Most Read