An outbreak of norovirus at St. Mary’s Hospital in Sechelt has been contained, Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) confirmed April 17.
“It got spread to quite a few people, but it’s all resolved. We had our last symptom about 96 hours ago,” said medical health officer Dr. Paul Martiquet in an interview on April 16.
According to him, the outbreak was first noticed “about a week ago,” (April 10) and Martiquet reminded members of the public that such instances are common.
But despite the frequency of such outbreaks during this time of year, Martiquet said officials would not be taking chances.
“We bleach down everything in the hospital, we make sure our food handling is upgraded in terms of our food handlers and make sure any source of transmission is reduced,” he said.
The disease tends to last roughly 24 hours and is most dangerous to the frail and elderly.
According to the public health agency of Canada, norovirus — previously Norwalk until 2002 — was first discovered during an Ohio outbreak in 1972.
Most commonly found in North America, the virus tends to make itself known most frequently during the colder months of the year.
Sickness can develop as soon as 24 hours from exposure and the symptoms generally include digestive problems like vomiting, diarrhea and stomach pain. People often experience fevers, chills, headaches, tiredness and muscle aches as well.
“The key is hand washing,” said Martiquet. “What happens is someone from the community comes into the hospital or Totem Lodge and they haven’t washed their hands properly. Lo and behold the patient they’re visiting gets it and it spreads.”
He added that VCH was unaware of any serious concerns in the school system related to the disease.
“It’s really important that (visitors are) careful with the frail and elderly that they’re visiting and that they are washing their hands,” he said.