New outbreak at Peace Arch Hospital

Norwalk virus hits nine patients on fifth floor

Fraser Health has confirmed a new outbreak of norovirus at Peace Arch Hospital –. less than a month after the last outbreak was declared over. 

However Fraser Health spokesman Roy Thorpe-Dorward said the outbreak, which is confined to the fifth floor ACE (Acute Care for the Elderly) unit is “not uncommon at all.”

“We’re not seeing anything unusual – it’s quite common at this time of year,” he said.

“But that doesn’t mean we don’t take it seriously, particularly when it affects older patients.”

Sometimes known as “infectious gastro-enteritis,” or the “Norwalk virus,” norovirus is  often found in institutional settings where it is easily spread through surface or water contamination, and is characterized by one to three days of vomiting and or diarrheal illness.

Thorpe-Dorward said that nine cases had been identified in the 20-patient unit since Feb. 18.

As of late last week, these had dwindled to two “active” cases, he said, noting outbreak status continues until 72 hours after resolution of the symptoms of the last identified case.

Thorpe-Dorward said the outbreak had led the hospital to call for enhanced surface cleaning and hand washing, limiting visitors to one at a time per patient and asking potential visitors who may have symptoms of gastro-enteritis to stay away.

Patients are considered capable of spreading the virus up to two days after symptoms subside.