Norovirus outbreak 'unlikely to go far'

By Kristin Macfarlane

Rotorua probably has residents suffering from norovirus every day but a medical expert says it's unlikely to spread very far.

Norovirus is an infection which causes vomiting and diarrhoea, is very contagious and usually settles within 24 to 48 hours.

Earlier this month The Daily Post reported an outbreak of the virus at Rotorua Hospital and that health officials were investigating whether the infection had also struck at Cantabria Rest Home and Hospital.

Lakes medical officer of health Dr Phil Shoemack said test results on the five residents who had fallen ill at Cantabria Rest Home and Hospital, four with diarrhoea and one with vomiting, had come back negative for norovirus and he didn't know which bug had caused the illness.

No more cases of norovirus had been reported to Dr Shoemack since the outbreak at Rotorua Hospital.

A total of 13 staff at the hospital had been infected during the outbreak which happened between September 18 and 21.

Dr Shoemack said, however, it was likely people in the community were getting norovirus all the time but it was unlikely to spread further than those who were in direct contact with the infected person.

"They don't go too much further," he said.

The risk of the illness spreading became greater when places like hospitals had someone with norovirus because other patients were usually already unwell.

Symptoms of the virus included diarrhoea and vomiting, abdominal cramps, headaches, lethargy and fever and could last 12 to 36 hours, but typically they lasted about 24 hours.

Dr Shoemack said it wasn't possible to make the bug go away completely but people should always wash their hands in a bid to stop it spreading.

"We won't make them [the bugs] go away but we can limit them and limit their spread."

- Rotorua Daily Post

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