Viral-gastroenteritis outbreak within Whangarei Hospital’s Orthopaedic Ward | Te Whatu Ora - Te Tai Tokerau

Viral-gastroenteritis outbreak within Whangarei Hospital’s Orthopaedic Ward

Paula Martin,

A viral gastroenteritis outbreak has been identified within Whangarei Hospital’s Ward One.

The outbreak, likely norovirus, has affected 11 patients –who have been isolated to prevent other patients being infected. As a further precaution, the ward has been closed to new admissions and visiting is restricted and will only be allowed in exceptional circumstances over the weekend. 

Dr David Hammer, Clinical Microbiologist, said that norovirus is currently widespread in the community and urged members of the public with any gastroenteritis-like symptoms not to visit patients in hospital. 

“We are asking members of the public – if you are unwell or have been around people who have been unwell – please do not visit the hospital for at least 48 hours.” 

Strict infection control measures are in place to reduce the risk for other patients within the hospital. 

Norovirus symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach pains and feeling like throwing up. 

Norovirus is normally only a mild to moderate illness but the elderly and the very young can have more serious disease.  People with symptoms of gastroenteritis are advised to stay away from other people and phone their family doctor if the symptoms are severe or the illness does not get better after two days.

About Norovirus

  • Norovirus is a very common cause of gastroenteritis in the community.
  • The most usual ways of catching it are contact with infected people, eating contaminated food (especially shellfish) or drinking untreated water.
  • Symptoms are predominantly vomiting and diarrhea, stomach pains, aching muscles, feeling off-colour and a headache which usually last approximately 48 hours.
  • Those with symptoms should remain at home until at least 48 hours symptom free and avoid preparing food for others. Maintaining adequate hydration is important.
  • In a family setting it is important for those with symptoms to avoid contact with the elderly and the young.
  • If symptoms are severe or prolonged, dehydration may occur. The illness is usually self-limiting but may be worse in the young and the elderly. Those severely affected should consult a doctor.
  • The most important way of preventing spread is thorough hand hygiene (washing hands for 20 seconds using soap and running water and drying for 20 seconds) after going to the toilet and before preparing food.

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