Norovirus sweeps across the Coast

Christine Wood/Staff Writer / Staff writer
January 18, 2013 01:00 AM

Norovirus is sweeping across the Coast, but it hasn't settled in any care homes or the hospital.

"We certainly have norovirus in the community, but we don't have any facility outbreaks, so we're basically in a good position compared to what we see in the Lower Mainland," said Paul Martiquet, medical health officer for the Sunshine Coast. "We've been lucky in that people who are going to see their loved ones in long term care facilities have been washing their hands before going."

Norovirus causes acute symptoms similar to the stomach flu, which can't be treated with antibiotics since the illness is a virus.

Characterized by a sudden onset of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps, the symptoms last for only one or two days. However, an infected person can pass on norovirus for days after they feel better. Symptoms may also include a low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches and fatigue.

Martiquet said children who become ill can return to school 48 hours after they feel better; however, caregivers and food handlers are asked to stay home for 72 hours after the sickness has subsided.

"We use that as basically a proxy measure for anybody who's a caregiver or food handler just to err on the side of caution, but yes, we want to make sure that those people who are handling food or are serving those who are debilitated or vulnerable do make sure they don't have any norovirus left in their system," Martiquet said.

The best way to keep from contracting norovirus is to practise good hand washing techniques.

The virus can survive for a long time on surfaces that are not properly cleaned and a person can become ill when they touch the surface and then place their hands or fingers in their mouth.

The virus may also spread through the air when someone vomits.

Get rid of the nasty virus in your home by cleaning and disinfecting contaminated surfaces and washing clothes and linens as soon as they become soiled. Use a chlorine bleach solution to make sure the virus is eradicated.

Find out more about norovirus in this fact sheet on the Centre for Disease Control website at

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