Increased Activity of Enteric Illnesses in the Southwest – Precautions Encouraged

Recent increases in suspected Norovirus activity has prompted the Cypress Health Region to issue a precautionary advisory to the public.

Norovirus is an infection of the intestinal system and is not a flu. It is known for its easy and quick spread. You can get norovirus from an infected person, contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces. The best way to prevent the spread of any enteric illness is by thorough and frequent handwashing, especially after using the washroom and before/after eating meals. Norovirus is not easily killed by hand sanitizers.

Dr. David Torr, Medical Health Officer for Cypress Health, emphasizes that the public should keep up their efforts in reducing the spread of noroviruses. “We are aware that many communities within the region are facing a higher incidence of individuals affected by gastro-intestinal symptoms, especially school-aged children. Frequent handwashing is the best way to prevent spreading illness and is the best way to protect yourself and those around you.”

“Other infection control techniques, such as cleaning and sanitizing frequently touched areas in your own home, such as door knobs, hand rails, light switches, and flat surfaces, and staying at home if you are sick until you are symptom-free for at least 48 hours are also important. Those working in the food industry, especially food handlers, are required to stay away from work for longer periods of time to prevent any possible spread,” added Dr. Torr.

The most common symptoms of norovirus are diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain. Other symptoms include fever, headache, and body aches. Most individuals with norovirus will feel better within one to three days.

The Cypress Health Region kindly asks that sick individuals do not visit any of its facilities until they are free from symptoms for a minimum of 48 hours. This will assist in minimizing the spread of illness.

For more information please speak with your family physician, call the provincial HealthLine at 8-1-1, or contact Public Health at 306-778-5280. Those who are actively experiencing symptoms of an enteric illness are strongly encouraged to visit their primary care provider/medical professional to have a sample collected and tested to determine the type of their illness.

For more information on norovirus please visit the Public Health Agency of Canada website.