Norovirus suspected at hospital

A suspected outbreak of norovirus at Dunstan Hospital, Clyde, has affected at least nine patients and 12 staff, whose symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea, nausea and abdominal cramps.

Nursing services manager Debi Lawry said in a press release yesterday the highly contagious virus was "strongly suggestive" of norovirus, and the hospital was implementing measures to control its spread.

The ward housing the patients is closed to all visitors, and affected staff are off work until they have been clear of all symptoms for at least 48 hours.

A separate area has been cordoned off in the hospital to accommodate all necessary admissions, and general practitioners, rest-home staff and other health providers have been informed of the outbreak.

A new cleaning regime has also been implemented, staff are wearing gowns, gloves, and masks, and specimens have been sent to a laboratory for confirmation of the virus.

When contacted last night, Ms Lawry said the hospital became aware on Sunday there was a virus outbreak, but it was not known when, how, or by whom the virus had been spread.

"With hindsight, you look back and think maybe someone came in vomiting on Friday and that was the start of it.

"It can be hard to see a virus at first because it's sporadic and then you notice a pattern . . .

"Sunday was when we started implementing outbreak precautions," she said.

Ms Lawry said the virus was also in the wider Clyde and Alexandra community and she urged people with symptoms to stay away from the hospital.

"That includes anyone who has been caring for someone with the virus," she said.

"[And] if any outpatients have scheduled appointments this week, they will need to ring the hospital and reschedule before coming in."

Norovirus was relatively short-lived and most people should be clear of symptoms within 36 to 48 hours.

Ms Lawry said it had been at least a year since Dunstan Hospital had a virus outbreak, although it was not uncommon for hospitals and rest-homes to have to deal with outbreaks.

"It's a bit of a struggle at the moment with 12 staff down, but the staff who are as yet unaffected have been superb.

"We are hoping these measures will break the virus, and hopefully it will be over in a couple of days," she said.


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