Tag Archives: norovirus

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.

Norovirus Outbreak Declared Over – Visitation Resumes at Swift Current Care Centre

Update: February 10 at 11:00am

Please be advised that the outbreak at the Swift Current Care Centre has been rescinded and visitation at the facility may now resume.

The health region would like to thank the general public for adhering to the visitation restrictions during the outbreak.  Thanks is also extended to the staff and public health/inspection control teams for their diligence in working to rescind the outbreak as quickly as possible.

While visitation has now resumed, Norovirus and other illnesses continue to circulate in our communities.  Frequent and proper handwashing are very important to eliminate the spreading of illnesses.  In particular, the health region asks anyone visiting a health facility to please wash your hands thoroughly prior to leaving your home and wash your hands again upon entering the facility.  If you are feeling ill, please stay home until you are feeling well.

Update – February 2, 2016 at 3:10pm

Results from the Saskatchewan Disease Control Laboratory in Regina have identified and confirmed Norovirus to be the causation of an outbreak at the Swift Current Care Centre.  The outbreak remains in effect.

Noroviruses are very contagious and can easily spread from person to person.  Proper handwashing is critical to the reduction of spreading of noroviruses.  With confirmed norovirus cases in the Cypress Health Region, the public is asked to frequently and properly wash their hands.  This includes using warm, soapy water for a minimum of 30 seconds.  Hand sanitizers are not a replacement for proper handwashing and should be used only if access to handwashing supplies is not available.

Individuals can become infected with a norovirus in several ways, such as through direct contact with another person who is infected, by touching surfaces or objects contaminated with the virus, or eating food and drinking water that has been contaminated.

There are presently 4 residents at the Swift Current Care Centre who are experiencing signs and symptoms of the illness.  Visitation remains restricted in order to reduce the risk of illness being brought into or taken out of the facility.

As part of the Region’s outbreak protocols, infection control practices have been enhanced at the Swift Current Care Centre.  Any staff who are ill are being advised to stay home and not return to work until they are asymptomatic for a minimum of 72 hours.

The health region would like to thank the public for adhering to the visitor restrictions that have been put in place.  Appreciation is also extended to staff and the region’s Public Health/Infection Control teams who are working diligently to eliminate the illness from the facility as quickly as possible.

Norovirus Information

Noroviruses are found in the stool or vomit of infected people. The viruses are very contagious and can spread easily from person to person. People exposed to the virus usually develop symptoms of illness within 24 to 48 hours, but symptoms can occur as soon as 12 hours after exposure. People infected with a norovirus can be contagious from the moment they start feeling ill to at least three days after they have recovered.

The most common symptoms of norovirus illness are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps.  Symptoms can also include low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and fatigue.

The illness often begins suddenly, about 24 to 48 hours after exposure, and the infected person may become very sick with frequent vomiting and/or diarrhea. In general, children experience more vomiting than adults.

In most healthy people, acute diarrhea and vomiting usually last 24 to 72 hours, and people normally recover within one to two days. Symptoms may last longer in some people.

Most people feel better within one or two days, with symptoms resolving on their own and no long-term health effects occurring after illness.

There is no vaccine or antiviral to prevent getting sick with a norovirus and antibiotics are not effective in treating the illness (because antibiotics fight bacteria, not viruses).  However, healthy people normally recover within one or two days with symptoms resolving on their own.

Original Message – January 29, 2016 at 2:43pm

Under the guidance of Medical Health Officer Dr. David Torr, an outbreak has been declared at the Swift Current Care Centre due to the presence of enteric illness signs and symptoms amongst the facility’s long term care residents.

Due to this declaration, please consider the following:

  • Until further notice, visitation to the facility will be restricted.  The only exceptions to these restrictions will be in the event of an ‘end of life’ situation, where the nurse in charge at the facility can be contacted to discuss the options that are available for the family members to visit their loved one.
  • Outbreak has been declared due to the presence of an unconfirmed enteric illness.  Samples are being forwarded to the Saskatchewan Disease Control Laboratory in Regina for analysis and confirmation of the illness type.
  • Presently, there are 6 long term care residents within the facility who have been identified as meeting the signs and symptoms of this illness.
  • Enhanced cleaning and infection control protocols have been implemented within the facility in an attempt to remove the illness.

Public Health and Infection Control Team members are actively involved and are providing guidance into the ongoing steps being taken to eradicate the illness.  The health region is strongly emphasizing that everyone do what they can to prevent the spread of illness/sickness to others.  Frequent and proper handwashing, staying home when ill, and enhanced cleaning of hard surfaces within your homes/businesses should always be the normal practice.

This page will be updated with further details as they become available.