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Gastroenteritis outbreak at Palmerston North Hospital

Gastroenteritis outbreak at Palmerston North Hospital

16 May 2014
There is currently an outbreak of gastroenteritis in Ward 26 at Palmerston North Hospital.

Admission to this area is restricted, and all transfers to other wards, or discharges to residential care facilities have been stopped until further notice. Patients are able to be discharged home.

All the usual precautionary measures are being taken in order to reduce the chance of the outbreak spreading further. Patients will be managed in contact isolation, with staff wearing gowns and gloves for patient contact.

Dr Rob Weir, Medical Officer of Health said: “the rapid increase in cases in ward 26 indicates the organism causing this outbreak is highly infectious.

There have also been more gastroenteritis outbreaks than normal in the community this year. A lot of these outbreaks have been due to norovirus, which is a highly infectious organism. It is for these reasons that I would advise against visiting the ward unless absolutely necessary.”

If visiting is absolutely necessary, please adhere to visiting hours (2-8pm).

It is recommended that visits are kept short and visitors should ensure they use the hand gel located at the end of the wards on entry and exit. The hand washing facilities available in each patient room should also be used. Hand washing for 20 seconds with soap and warm water, followed by effective drying for 20 seconds is required.

For anyone who is currently unwell, you are advised not to visit the hospital. It is also recommended that children do not visit any area with an outbreak.

Common symptoms of gastroenteritis are vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach pains. The organisms that cause gastroenteritis are highly infectious. Most people recover from gastroenteritis quickly but it can be serious in some people, particularly if they become dehydrated. Children, elderly and people with weak immune systems are more likely to suffer serious illness.

To minimise spread of gastroenteritis:

If you, or somebody you are caring for, is extremely unwell and you feel you need to take them to the doctor, call Healthline 0800 611 116 for medical advice. If you are advised to go to the doctor or hospital ring ahead to advise them you are bringing in a person with gastroenteritis.

Wash and dry hands regularly when caring for sick people, before preparing food and after using the toilet.

Anyone with symptoms of gastroenteritis should avoid contact with others. It is important that they do not visit rest homes, hospitals or attend school or Early Child Education centres until 48 hours after symptoms of gastroenteritis have stopped.

Personal hygiene is the best way to minimise the spread of gastroenteritis. Hand washing for 20 seconds with soap and warm water, followed by effective drying for 20 seconds is required.


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