Third rest home hit by suspected norovirus bug

By Mike Dinsdale -
A norovirus outbreak last year affected 288 people in six Northland rest homes. Photo / Thinkstock
A norovirus outbreak last year affected 288 people in six Northland rest homes. Photo / Thinkstock

A third Whangarei rest home has been hit by a suspected outbreak of the nasty stomach bug norovirus in less than a month.

Northland District Health Board medical officer of health Jonathan Jarman said he was notified on Monday of a possible outbreak of gastroenteritis at Merrivale Rest Home in Kamo.

"The cause of the outbreak is uncertain and we are waiting for laboratory test results," Dr Jarman said.

Thirteen residents and four staff had been affected.

Dr Jarman said the rest home is trying to control the outbreak. Unwell residents are being asked to stay in their rooms and sick staff have been sent home.

"It would be best if people did not visit friends or family at the rest home until the outbreak is over," he said.

"Norovirus is a likely culprit. This is a really infectious bug and one of the best ways to prevent spread is thoroughly washing and drying your hands. For most people it is not a severe illness but it can cause complications in the elderly and the young. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea or just feeling really queasy."

The outbreak comes after a total of 47 people were hit by norovirus at the Ranburn Lifestyle residential rest home, in Waipu, and Shalom Aged Care facility in Whangarei in the past month.

A norovirus outbreak last year affected 288 people in six Northland rest homes and was linked to the deaths of two elderly residents.

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