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Norovirus: It's That Time of Year

March 2, 2012


VICTORIA – Have you or your family members recently been ill with vomiting and diarrhea? Norovirus might be to blame! The Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) is seeing an increase in Norovirus-like illness activity both in our facilities and in the community.

Currently five facilities have active outbreaks of Norovirus or Noro-like symptoms. The Saanich Peninsula Hospital and its extended care units are particularly affected. In all cases of facility outbreak, it is believed the illness was brought into the facility by a visitor or patient.  VIHA is asking anyone with symptoms of Norovirus to not visit until they are feeling better. Facilities under active outbreak status are available online at: http://www.viha.ca/mho/public_health_alerts/active_outbreak_list.htm.

Norovirus (sometimes called "stomach flu") is very contagious. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, abdominal pain and sometimes slight fever. The incubation period is 24-48 hours. The illness usually begins suddenly and lasts for one to three days. It is transmitted by direct or indirect contact from contaminated hands and surfaces or by droplets from an infected persons vomit - and it takes just a microgram of the organism to make you sick.

Always take time to wash your hands thoroughly - especially after using the toilet and before stepping up to the buffet line or potluck table. Use extra caution when preparing food for others.

To prevent the spread of the virus:

  • Wash your hands – often!
  • If you’re sick – stay home! And stay there for at least 48-hours after your last bout of vomiting or diarrhea. Please don’t visit people in hospital or residential care homes if you’re sick.
  • Disinfect with a bleach-based cleaning solution.
  • Do not prepare food for others if you are ill.

If you do get sick and you’re usually healthy, the virus can generally be managed at home with fluid replacement. If, however, you become severely dehydrated you should seek medical care. If you’re concerned about your symptoms, contact your doctor or HealthLink BC at 8-1-1 for help in determining the nature and urgency of your medical condition.

If you are planning to visit a resident or patient in a facility that has Norovirus, consider postponing your visit until the outbreak has been declared over. If you do visit, check with the facility and follow the necessary infection control procedures - especially hand washing.

Norovirus is not confined to institutional settings and can be transmitted at home, the workplace or at social gatherings. Thorough hand washing with soap and warm running water is the most effective way to prevent the spread of this virus.

For more information about Norovirus, visit:

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Media Contact:
Shannon Marshall
VIHA Communications
250-370-8270