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Wash your hands - Gastro still prevalent

21 March 2006

Wash your hands - Gastro still prevalent in community

The highly infectious gastroenteritis, or stomach bug as it is more commonly known, is still prevalent in the Bay of Plenty, more than one month after it first closed some wards at Tauranga Hospital.

Bay of Plenty District Health Board Infectious Diseases Specialist, Dr Brian Dwyer says that the public is reminded that norovirus is highly infectious, and control is best achieved by isolation while experiencing symptoms, followed by strict hand washing after using a toilet and again before preparing or serving food.

"Please wash your hands to prevent passing this bug on to your family members and your work colleagues," says Dr Dwyer.

"People in the community who have caught the virus should not return to work or school until they have been without symptoms for 48 hours to help prevent passing the bug on to others."

Since mid-February Tauranga Hospital's Emergency Department has seen an increased steady flow of people of all ages presenting with gastroenteritis, and has been managing the treatment of each patient carefully to avoid spreading the virus through the hospital.

However, despite the hospital's strict infection control measures, the virus has reappeared within the hospital, causing the closure of Ward Seven to new admissions and transfers.

The hospital is urging families with members who may have gastroenteritis to avoid visiting friends and family in hospital while symptoms persist. It has also requested that any rest homes and other facilities for the care of the elderly currently experiencing an outbreak should notify the hospital if they have patients for transfer.

Tauranga Hospital General Manager, Alan Wilson, says that patients will be accommodated in other wards in the interim, and patients from Ward Seven will be discharged home in due course.

"To prevent spreading the virus there will be no discharges to rest homes or transfers to other wards or hospitals from Ward Seven," says Mr Wilson.

ENDS

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