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

Shoppers line up hours early for reopening of Penticton’s Care Closet Thrift Store

The not-for-profit thrift store supports several local organizations and charities

Summerland man rescued following ATV accident

Helicopters used to transport injured man to Kelowna for treatment

South Okanagan playgrounds now open

Once caution tape is removed, playgrounds are officially open for public use

Moog and Friends Hospice hopes to raise $30,000 this month

Donations give hospice a chance to win an additional cash prize of $20,000

Canada Day to go virtual in Penticton

City seeking videos of residents singing the national anthem to include in online celebration

VIDEO: A Vancouver Island black bear takes weekend nap in eagle tree

Videos captured by Terry Eissfeldt shows the bear arriving Saturday night and sleeping in on Sunday

High water levels on Shuswap Lake may close popular Canoe Beach

Rain forecast could flood entrance tunnel, city staff to evaluate

189 homes in Grand Forks area given evacuation orders

Homes are in the Nursery, Grand Forks Airport, Gilpin Rd., Johnson Flats and Granby Rd. areas

Mother bear and two cubs spotted in West Kelowna

Residents of Shannon Lake are urged to be on the look out for three bears in the area

Social justice advocate yells at Kelowna council, demands presence at Black Lives Matter rally

Heather Friesen has again taken to council chambers to make her opinion heard

Youth filmmakers tackle technology addiction, relationships, cyber-bullying

The Kelowna couple won a grant from Telus STORYHIVE

Significant flooding not expected in Summerland

Okanagan Lake now slightly higher than full pool level

Vernon videographer captures thunderstorm

See the ‘best bits’ of Saturday’s storm

Most Read