Editor’s note: Updates information regarding norovirus cases at Boundary Hospital.
There were two cases of norovirus at Boundary Hospital in Grand Forks last week.
Initially, it was not known whether it was actually norovirus but Interior Health confirmed late Tuesday that two out of four patients with gastrointestinal (GI) bug symptoms indeed had the virus.
According to Cindy Crane, acute health service administrator for Boundary Hospital, the hospital had to limit visitors and there were a number of suspected cases out in the community as well.
“We’ve had some patients with those symptoms here. Four of our 12 patients have had some GI symptoms, which is basically the nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, so that was in the middle of last week,” Crane explained on Monday morning. “We did enhance our housekeeping and started our isolation procedures. The good news is as of (Monday) morning, all of those patients have cleared – basically they’ve had 48 hours of none of the GI symptoms.”
Crane said that 10 hospital staff members were also affected and they too were free of symptoms for 48 hours before they returned to work.
Test samples were collected on Thursday and Friday she said.
While a bulletin wasn’t issued, Crane said warning signs were posted throughout the acute ward of Boundary Hospital, because the bug was in the acute areas.
“We didn’t put a halt to admissions or discharges but certainly we had those four patients in isolation and physicians were made aware. We’re doing the things we would normally do for any type of isolation – wearing the gowns and masks and gloves,” explained Crane, adding that she is stressing that people use proper hand hygiene by hand washing.
She said the hospital did let visitors know about the patients in isolation and said that the bug may have been around for a few weeks.
“This is just by word of mouth and also from our staff. Again, until we isolate it and I don’t know if anyone in the community has had test results back. I don’t have any sense of how many people are out there but obviously, just for the number of staff that were here that experienced symptoms, it really has been going on for the last, probably two or three weeks in the community as close as we can tell,” Crane estimated. “It does happen in the fall and into the winter for certain.”
Crane said in cases of a serious outbreak, a warning would come from the public health realm.
“It would be a public health warning from the medical health officer, so that’s how it would come out,” Crane explained.
According to the province’s HealthLinkBC website, the norovirus is a group of viruses that can cause acute gastroenteritis, a.k.a. the stomach flu or winter vomiting disease.
Within a day or two of being exposed, victims may have upset stomach and start vomiting with cramps, chills, fever and diarrhea. The illness usually last between one and three days and antibiotics should not be taken.
“Good handwashing and proper handwashing are the best ways of preventing the virus and reducing its spread and that goes for the community as well,” Crane went on to say.