Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Norovirus Notebook: May 12, 2009

Norovirus – also known to its victims as the Winter Vomiting Bug, the Nursing Home Bug, and the Cruise Ship Bug (and somewhat more formally as the Norwalk-like virus) – can be counted upon to make its appearance on a regular basis any time of year.

We'll be tracking the travels of this highly infectious and very rugged virus on a weekly basis.

Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Islands
  • Australia, April 22 – Ballarat Health Service's Hailey House, an assisted living residence, was hit with a Norovirus outbreak that sickened 25 residents and 14 staff members of the facility. The facility, which houses 60 residents, implemented restrictions on visitors until the outbreak had run its course.
  • New Zealand, April 24 – Wanganui and Hawke's Bay regional Hospitals reported outbreaks of gastroenteritis. Visitors were asked to stay away from both facilities until the outbreaks, which were suspected to have been caused by Norovirus, were brought under control.

Europe, Including Russia
  • UK, April 22 – Two wards were closed, and visiting restrictions placed on a third at Taunton’s Musgrove Park Hospital after three patients at the hospital were diagnosed with Norovirus. Visitors were asked to stay away until the outbreak was over.
  • UK, April 23Warwick Hospital also was hit with an outbreak of Norovirus gastroenteritis, resulting in the closure of three wards and limits on visitors elsewhere in the hospital. 
  • UK, May 7 – Countess of Chester Hospital in Cheshire is experiencing an outbreak of Norovirus that has prompted hospital officials to ban visitors. Hospital management has not indicated how many patients have been infected, or whether staff members also have been stricken. A hospital spokesperson assured the public that the ban on visitors was in no way related to the current outbreak of Influenza A(H1N1).

Western Hemisphere
  • Canada, April 23 Macaulay Lodge, a 44-bed nursing home in Whitehorse, was quarantined by Yukon health officials after reporting an outbreak of Norovirus infections. Residents were restricted to their rooms, group activities scaled back and the public discouraged from visiting after 19 residents and 12 staff members complained of gastroenteritis. 
  • Canada, April 25 – North Bay's North East Mental Health Centre closed its doors after a week-long struggle to contain an outbreak of Norovirus that sickened at least 22 patients and staff. The facility was expected to remain closed for several days to avoid spreading the outbreak to the community.
  • Canada, April 28Ecole St. Pierre, a Sudbury (Ontario) school, was scrubbed down and disinfected after Norovirus infected 66 students and staff at the 220-student school. Students were required to remain at home for 48 hours after their symptoms disappeared before being permitted to return to school.
  • USA (New York), April 18 – 160 students and staff at a Westchester County high school experienced a wave of gastrointestinal illnesses that left school administrators scrambling to respond. The school will be providing its students with a refresher course on appropriate personal hygiene and hand-washing techniques.
  • USA (Nebraska), April 22 – State health officials suspect that Norovirus was the cause of an outbreak of gastroenteritis that affected dozens of patrons of the Marina Inn, a South Sioux City restaurant. The restaurant closed for disinfection at the urging of heath authorities.
  • Panama Canal Cruise, April 23 – The Island Princess has reported an outbreak of gastroenteritis on board that has affected at least 100 passengers and five crew members. The ship, which is part of the Princess Cruise Line, sailed from Ft. Lauderdale for a 15-day cruise through the Caribbean and the Panama Canal, up the Pacific coast of Central America and Mexico, and ending in Los Angeles. The CDC has not yet confirmed a diagnosis, but the reported symptoms are consistent with Norovirus. This is the ninth cruise ship outbreak of gastroenteritis reported to CDC so far this year, and the second that involves Princess Cruises.

Please join us again next week for another edition of Norovirus Notebook.

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