Gastro outbreak closes wards

Two wards at Dunedin Hospital have been closed after an outbreak of gastroenteritis.

Gastroenteritis, or infectious diarrhoea, had affected 20 patients and eight staff at the hospital, Southern District Health Board executive director of nursing and midwifery Leanne Samuel said.

''The outbreak has affected seven patients and three staff in ward 6a and 13 patients and five staff in ward 6b,'' Mrs Samuel said.

The wards had been closed to new admissions since Monday. It was hoped they would reopen by the end of the week.

''Precautions are in place with clinical staff using gowns and gloves ... and employing rigorous infection, prevention and control measures,'' she said.

''We are keeping cohorting patients who are symptomatic together away from other patients or managing them in single rooms.''

Mrs Samuel urged visitors to take precautions when visiting the hospital.

''The public are asked to stay away from the hospital if they are sick, and if they are visiting the hospital, to use the hand gels provided,'' Mrs Samuel said.

Wards 6a and 8b were closed earlier this year after a similar outbreak. That closure put pressure on other parts of the hospital and some elective surgery was cancelled.

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