TRURO, NS – An outbreak of gastrointestinal illness among patients and staff at the Colchester Regional Hospital has resulted in a temporary shutdown of the 4-East Medical Unit.
Over the past few days, approximately 15 patients and staff have developed symptoms, which include diarrhea and vomiting, Colchester East Hants Health Authority spokeswoman Krista Wood said.
A small number of people have also been seen in the Emergency Department with similar symptoms, she said.
In the meantime, staff on the unit are making contact with family members and will be assessing the number of cases on a daily basis to determine whether visitor restrictions can be lifted. Additional housekeeping support has also been provided to the unit.
“The best way to protect ourselves from getting a stomach bug or other common illnesses is to keep our hands clean,” added Dr. Robin Taylor, the authority’s Medical Officer of Health. “Washing our hands regularly and ensuring we handle and serve food properly are key to preventing illness year-round, and this is no exception. It’s especially important to wash our hands often when we’re in public places, like shopping malls, schools and hospitals.”
Normally, healthy people who develop gastrointestinal illness can expect to see their condition improve within 24 to 48 hours. The very young, elderly and those with chronic illnesses should seek medical advice from their family physician, the walk-in clinic or the Emergency Department if the symptoms persist.
Gastrointestinal illnesses are present year-round and have been linked to illness in other parts of the province as well. The virus should not be confused with the influenza virus, which causes respiratory illness and can be prevented by getting a yearly flu shot, Woods said.
And while no confirmed cases of influenza have been reported so far in the province this year, practicing good hygiene can certainly aid in preventing the spread of this illness as well, medical officials advise.
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