By Cecilia Nasmith/Today’s Northumberland
A cluster of Norovirus cases identified at Northumberland Hills Hospital’s 2A medical-surgical unit, among both patients and staff.
NHH has issued a press release to state that it is working closely with the Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit to contain this highly contagious virus and and to communicate measures that have been taken.
Contact precautions – All identified patients are on contact precautions (isolation). These patients must remain in their own rooms except when medically indicated procedures are required (at which time appropriate use of personal protective equipment is required).
No new admissions to the affected unit – 2A is not accepting new admissions and, for the time being, will postpone patient transfers to and from other units.
Strict enforcement of proper hand hygiene using soap and water – Scrupulous hand hygiene is one of the most important infection-prevention and -control practices to stop transmission of gastrointestinal illness and other infections diseases, Unfortunately, hand sanitizers are not effective against Norovirus. Thorough hand washing (for a minimum of 15 seconds) with soap and water is required.
Visitor restrictions to 2A – Visitor restrictions are in place for 2A patients for the time being, with special exceptions evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Visiting to other parts of the hospital is not currently impacted.
Temporary suspension of volunteer activities on 2A – To minimize the risk of spreading, all volunteering activities on 2A are temporarily suspended.
Enhanced environmental cleaning – Increased cleaning of the unit and increased cleaning of equipment shared among patient rooms has been implemented.
Monitoring – Any patient who develops a new onset of nausea, diarrhea or vomiting will be placed on contact precautions.
Proactive communication – Public notices are being placed on all appropriate hospital entrances as well as on doorways within (or leading to) 2A to promote awareness, with reminders on the hand-hygiene requirements, A backgrounder on visitor tips to minimize the spread of infections can be found at www.nhh.ca.
NHH remains fully operational, with programs and services across the hospital operating as normal. Any visitors to the hospital are urged to be diligent in practicing appropriate hand hygiene and infection-prevention and -control practices. Frequent hand washing – particularly before and after patient contact – is mandatory and vital to reducing health-care-associated infections
Norovirus is the term given to a group of viruses that causes gastroenteritis, an illness that usually includes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Noroviruses are commonly found throughout North America, and cases tend to be more common this time of year.
The viruses reside in the stool or vomit of infected people. The virus is very contagious, and easily spread from person to person. The Public Health Agency of Canada reports that people can become infected with the virus in several ways, including direct contact with an infected person (for example, caring for of diapering an ill child or sharing food or cutlery with an ill person), through touching surfaces or objects contaminated with the virus (such as door handles) and through food or drinking water that has been contaminated.
People exposed to the virus usually develop symptoms of illness within 24 to 48 hours, though symptoms can occur as quickly as 12 hours after exposure. People infected with the virus can be contagious from the moment they start feeling ill to at least three days after they have recovered.
The diagnosis is made through a laboratory test on the stool of an infected person. There is no preventive vaccine or anti-viral medication, and antibiotics are not effective in treating the illness. Health people normally recover within one or two days, and symptoms resolve themselves. To prevent dehydration, fluid intake should be increased.