Information about the Norovirus
As a result of the enhanced visitor restrictions at the Miramichi Regional Hospital, the Miramichi Regional Health Authority has received a number in calls and inquiries from the public regarding Norovirus. The enhanced visitor restrictions were put in place due to an increase in the number of individuals experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting. This increase was noted in people presenting to the emergency department and within the hospital in both patients and staff. This precautionary measure was put in place to prevent the spread of this illness. To date, there have been four confirmed cases of Norovirus which is a virus that causes gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea.
Visitors to the Miramichi Regional Hospital will be limited to two members of the patient’s immediate family from 2-9 p.m. Patients will provide names of visitors and identification will be requested. Visitors who must visit or come to the hospital for scheduled medical appointments are asked to follow strict hand washing measures to help prevent spread of the virus.
Dr. Denis Allard, the Medical Officer of Health for the Miramichi region says that the best way to protect oneself from getting or spreading the infection to others is to practice good personal hygiene. He says more specifically to wash one’s hands thoroughly with soap and water after using the toilet or changing a diaper and also before preparing or eating food. When soap and water are not available, it is recommended that an alcohol hand rinse be used.
Norwalk-like Virus Fact Sheet (NB Public health fact sheet – also on line at http://www.gnb.ca/0053/factsheets/pdf/norwalk-like-virus.pdf )
What is Norwalk-like Virus?
Norwalk-like virus is an infectious disease caused by a group of viruses called Norovirus. These Viruses are found worldwide and in New Brunswick. They live in the intestines of infected people and are passed in the feces and vomit. They are a common cause of diarrhea illness.
What are the symptoms of Norwalk-like Virus?
Symptoms usually appear within one to two days after being infected by the virus. Most people who become ill can have nausea vomiting, diarrhea, cramping, chills and fever. Symptoms usually last one or two days. Young children, the elderly, and persons with weakened immune systems are at a greater risk of more serious disease.
How is Norwalk-like virus spread?
The virus lives in the intestines of infected people and is passed in the feces. The virus may be found in soil, food, water, or surfaces that have been contaminated with infected feces or vomit. The virus can survive for a long time on surfaces such as countertops or sink taps if they are not properly cleaned. The disease is spread by eating food contaminated with the bacteria or by putting a contaminated object in one’s mouth. For example, water can be contaminated from sewage. Food and surfaces can be contaminated by contact with infected feces and vomit from people’s hands.
Most cases of Norwalk-like virus are associated with poor sanitary conditions or poor personal hygiene. The disease can be spread by close contact with an infected person who did not carefully wash their hands after using the toilet or changing a diaper. When someone vomits the people nearby may be exposed to tiny droplets that fly through the air.
Who can get Norwalk-like virus?
Anyone who swallows the virus can become ill and most people will recover without specific treatment.
How is Norwalk-like Virus treated?
Persons with diarrhea should drink lost of liquids to avoid dehydration. Consult your family doctor for advice and treatment if you have bloody or severe diarrhea. Norwalk-like virus is diagnosed by a laboratory test.
How is Norwalk-like Virus prevented?
Practice good personal hygiene. Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after using the toilet, after handling animals, after handling meats, and before preparing or eating food. To prevent the virus from spreading after a person has vomited, use hot water and detergent to clean the area.
Practice basic food safety precautions. Wash and/or peel all raw vegetables and fruits before eating. Thoroughly cook all meats (meat, poultry and seafood). Prevent contact of cooked foods with raw meats or poultry. Drink and eat only pasteurized dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt).
Avoid water that might be contaminated. Do not drink untreated surface water. Avoid swallowing water when swimming or bathing.
For additional information, contact your regional Public Health office or your family doctor.
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