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Virus makes rounds at residential care home

Stomach flu more dangerous for those with compromised immune systems

Administrators at Olive Devaud Residence are trying to contain the spread of a gastrointestinal virus after a number of residents began displaying symptoms on December 28.

Symptoms are norovirus-like, but the diagnosis is yet to be confirmed. Norovirus is a group of viruses that affect the gastrointestinal tract and are often referred to as stomach flu.

Outbreaks are commonly reported in hospitals, long-term care facilities, child care centres and schools. While outbreaks happen throughout the year, there are higher incidence rates from fall through to late spring.

According to information from Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH), common symptoms include sudden onset of nausea, vomiting, non-bloody diarrhea and stomach cramps. The illness usually clears up within one or two days. For the very young, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems, the virus may be more serious.

Dehydration is the greatest risk associated with the virus and drinking lots of liquids is recommended for combating symptoms. Stomach flus are spread through direct contact with an infected person or by touching contaminated surfaces or objects. Infected people can be contagious for at least three days after symptoms have receded.

Anna Marie D’Angelo, senior media relations officer at VCH, said Olive Devaud’s administrators have tried to contain the spread of the virus through restricting visitors, grouping people who have the virus together and increasing housekeeping.

“It’s in circulation in the community, so someone brought it in,” she said. “The basic thing about this is containment. We remind people to be vigilant about handwashing and stay away if you’re sick.”

The people who are ill have been grouped into cohorts and separated from the rest of the residents. The containment protocol can be lifted after patients are symptom-free for 48 hours. However, if someone vomits or has diarrhea, then the 48-hour clock restarts, D’Angelo said.

People wishing to visit residents at Olive Devaud are asked to phone ahead to check if visitors are permitted.

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