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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Climbers compete for Choc and Chalk

Annual competition attracts more than 100

T.W. Paterson column: Hudson Bay Co.’s Dr. Benson marched to a different drummer

Chief Factor James Douglas soon banished him to the Columbia River

Cowichan resident with dementia breaks silence on stigma in Alzheimer Society campaign

“I don’t think I’ve encountered stigma as much as I’ve encountered a lack of understanding”

Cowichan’s Achurch named all-star MVP

LMG goalie and teammate Scott help VISL beat FVSL

Indian Day School survivors can now submit claims for $10K-$200K in compensation

Anyone who is part of the class action is being encouraged to start the process now

Kids across Canada more at risk of hospitalization from flu this season: doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam said influenza B does not usually peak until February or later

BC Ferries hybrid ships arrive in Victoria on Saturday

The battery-operated vessels will take over smaller routes

Theft victim confronts suspects with baseball bat on Vancouver Island

RCMP in Nanaimo seek to identify of two people alleged to have used a stolen credit card

Closed mills, housing surge support a positive forecast for lumber industries

B.C. lumber producers have closed mills accounting for 18% of province’s capacity, RBC report says

Good Samaritan pays part of rent for B.C. woman facing eviction in can-collecting dispute

Zora Hlevnjak, 76, supplements her pension by collecting cans and receiving public donations

Kelowna’s ‘Baby Mary’ finds biological parents after more than 30 years

Geneologist and DNA test helped her connect with her biological parents

Kelowna hotel to award couples for baby-making with Nooner deal

The deal includes a free stay every Valentine’s Day for the next 18 years

Clerk bruised, traumatized after armed robbery at Nanaimo liquor store

Few details on male suspect in Wednesday incident, says Nanaimo RCMP

One last blast of winter tonight for parts of the Island before temperatures on the rise

A snowfall warning is in effect Friday including east Vancouver Island.

Most Read