Highly contagious illness closes QC hospital to visitors

  • Jan. 23, 2012 6:00 p.m.

By Alex Rinfret–The Queen Charlotte hospital was closed to visitors this week after it was hit by a severe outbreak of gastro-intestinal illness. Several patients, half the nursing staff, a doctor and other hospital workers all became sick with the highly-contagious illness, which causes vomiting, nausea and diarrhea. “They definitely have been hit very hard,” said Dr. David Bowering, Northern Health’s chief medical officer. Dr. Bowering said samples have been sent off-island for analysis, but it seemed clear that the Queen Charlotte infection is a type of noro-virus. “It’s not that uncommon, unfortunately,” he said. “It’s not unusual at all for this time of year.” The illness, also known informally as “winter vomiting disease” is not usually life-threatening but is severely uncomfortable, he said. It’s marked by a sudden onset of vomiting, diarrhea, chills, fever and cramps lasting from 12 hours to a couple of days. “You get very sick, very suddenly,” Dr. Bowering said. The virus does pose a threat to elderly patients and very young children, he said. The illness spreads easily from person to person, which makes hospitals, long-term care facilities and schools prime sites for outbreaks. Larger hospitals put people with noro-virus into separate areas from other patients to prevent it from spreading, but that’s impossible in a small hospital like Queen Charlotte, Dr. Bowering said. So many nurses were sick in Queen Charlotte that Northern Health was discussing the option of bringing in nurses from Masset or Prince Rupert, but as of Monday had decided that step wouldn’t be needed, he said. Bringing in other staff poses additional problems: travel can be difficult at this time of year, and it’s possible for staff to bring the virus back to their home hospital. According to Northern Health, there has been a spike in the number of cases of gastro-intestinal illness all across the northwest. A long-term care facility in Smithers and three elementary schools on the mainland have also been hit. People who are sick with vomiting or diarrhea should stay home while they are ill and for 48 hours afterwards, to prevent spreading it to others, according to Northern Health. The agency also advises people to wash their hands carefully and often, and to clean and disinfect common touch surfaces like door knobs, faucets, telephones, handrails and so on.

Just Posted

Environment Canada warns of strong winds Monday

Monday ferry sailing from Prince Rupert to Haida Gwaii has been cancelled

Investigating change to B.C.’s licence and quota system

MP Ken Hardie hears from fish harvesters how corporations are favoured under current regime

Bad weather delays next Prince Rupert/Haida Gwaii ferry

Stormy weather will delay the next ferry sailing from Prince Rupert to… Continue reading

Number-one bud: Q.C. cannabis store could be the first on Haida Gwaii

A local business owner is looking to open the first licensed cannabis… Continue reading

B.C. chiefs show solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs

Chiefs from around B.C. outside the Coastal GasLink pipeline route in Smithers show support.

UPDATE: B.C. legislature managers accused of excessive travel, expenses

Speaker Darryl Plecas’ report details ‘flagrant overspending’

Anti-pipeline group wants NEB to consider impact of emissions, climate change

Stand.earth filed NEB motion asking to apply same standard to the project as it did with Energy East pipeline

B.C. man charged in 2014 snake venom death of toddler

Henry Thomas was taking care of the North Vancouver girl the day before she died

Parole granted for drunk driver who killed B.C. RCMP officer

Kenneth Jacob Fenton will be able to attend alcohol abuse treatment, nearly three years after crash that killed Const. Sarah Beckett

B.C.’s largest public-sector union wants inquiry into money laundering, drugs

Union officials say Premier John Horgan and Attorney General David Eby have not ruled out the possibility of a public inquiry

Teen in confrontation with Native American: I didn’t provoke

Nick Sandmann of Covington Catholic High School said he was trying to defuse the situation

Kamala Harris opens U.S. presidential bid in challenge to Trump

The 54-year old portrayed herself as a fighter for justice, decency and equality in a video distributed by her campaign

Woman offers luxury Alberta home for just $25 and a flair for the written word

Alla Wagner ran into health problems, which forced her to list the 5,000-square-foot estate at market value

46% of Canadians $200 or less away from financial insolvency: poll

45% cent of those surveyed say they will need to go further into debt to pay their living and family expenses

Most Read