Contagious norovirus continues to spread at Royal Inland Hospital | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Contagious norovirus continues to spread at Royal Inland Hospital

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KAMLOOPS — A contagious stomach virus circulating at Royal Inland Hospital has affected four units, a nearby psychiatric centre, and two residential facilities. 

Interior Health Officials announced earlier this week of a gastrointestinal illness outbreak that had affected both patients and staff. As of today, Feb. 1, the number of people who have fallen ill from the norovirus has nearly doubled since the first public announcement, according to Interior Health Authority spokesperson Susan Duncan.

“It’s a contagious virus and it’s one that runs its course,” she says. “Today we have 31 patients and 26 who have come down with the virus.”

Duncan says many of those people have since recovered. The norovirus is a group of viruses that cause an infection in the stomach and intestine causing vomiting and diarrhea that lasts one to two days.

“It’s not a problem for healthy people, but it is hard on fragile or immune comprised people,” she says.

It’s typically spread from person to person through the germs found in stool or vomit of an infected person, Duncan says. That’s why it’s so important for people to wash their hands.

She says outbreaks aren’t uncommon in hospitals, but what’s different about this one is the number of wards that have been affected. The outbreak has postponed 20 surgeries to ensure beds are available in case of emergency admissions.

Duncan won’t speculate on why this outbreak is different.

“We are doing everything we possibly can to contain it in the hospital,” she says.

Hospital staff have stepped up housekeeping measures to stop the virus from spreading. The health authority also encourages people experiencing illness to postpone their visits to the hospital and recommend healthy people to postpone their visits until the outbreak is over.

Despite the hospital's efforts, other facilities are currently experiencing the same outbreak including Pinegrove Lodge and Berwick on the Park.

"That's why we keep saying to people, wash your hands... because of you go from [the hospital] and out into the community and into a community facility like a senior care home, there's a potential that they are going to pass it along," she says. 

The virus appears to be tougher on seniors and small children, Duncan says. 

For the full list of active outbreaks in the community go here.

For a list of symptoms of Norovirus go here.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Karen Edwards or call (250) 819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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