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Media Bulletin

GI Illness affecting Prince George residents

December 31, 2016

Northern Health is advising Prince George residents that gastrointestinal illness (GI) is circulating in the community and affecting staff and patients at UHNBC.

We know the best protection against GI is good prevention, especially with vulnerable populations such as seniors and young infants.

  • We promote proper hand hygiene practices
  • We ask people (including staff and visitors) to stay home if they’re feeling ill, or have recently been ill.

Northern Health asks that visits to patients of UHNBC be avoided. If the situation is urgent and visitors feel they must enter the hospital, please ensure you are feeling well. We strongly implore that visitors with recent GI symptoms not visit patients until they have been symptom free for at least 48 hours.

We would like to thank staff, residents, families, and friends for their cooperation now and throughout the year.

What is gastrointestinal illness?

Gastrointestinal illness, often caused by Norovirus, is common this time of year. Symptoms include nausea, abdominal cramps, chills, fever, vomiting and/or diarrhea. These symptoms usually only last a day or two, but because of its highly contagious nature, it is easily spread from person-to-person in the community. Large gatherings or public facilities, such as schools, may aid in the spread of infection because of people being in close contact with each other.

What can I do to prevent the spread of this illness?

Community members can be instrumental in preventing the spread of gastrointestinal illness by:

  1. Stay home if sick:

    • People who have had symptoms of gastrointestinal illness such as nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea in the past 48 hours should stay at home, and avoid situations where they could easily pass the illness on to others, including public gatherings, work and school. It is especially important not to visit relatives or friends in long term care facilities or hospitals if you are ill or have had symptoms in the last 48 hours.
  2. Proper hand washing:

    • Careful hand washing is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of disease. Always wash your hands well for at least 20 seconds with warm water and soap. Always wash your hands before and after using the washroom, before eating or preparing foods, and after helping someone who is ill (such as an ill child).
  3. Clean surface areas:

    • Increase environmental sanitation by cleaning and disinfecting common touch surfaces such as door knobs, faucets, telephones, handrails, food contact surfaces, keyboards, etc.

For more information on gastrointestinal illness, residents are encouraged to visit www.healthlinkbc.ca or call 8-1-1.

Northern Health reminds the public that a few simple tips can help avoid unnecessary trips to the hospital.

Here are a few guidelines for handling your health concerns:

  • Call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1 for confidential health information and non-emergency services 24/7. For deaf and hearing-impaired assistance (TTY), call 7-1-1.
  • For non-urgent care, use community health services including your family practitioner or walk-in clinics, where available. Be sure to note any changes to holiday clinic hours.
  • Note the holiday hours for local pharmacies, and ensure prescriptions are filled accordingly.
  • If you have a cold, call HealthLinkBC at 8-1-1 for advice, or ask your pharmacist about over-the-counter medications to ease symptoms.
  • Remember, it’s not too late to get a flu shot; check immunizebc.ca for clinic dates.
  • If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control at 1-800-567-8911.

If at any time you believe you require urgent medical attention, do not hesitate to go to the emergency department or call 9-1-1 for transportation.

While emergency services are available 24/7, hospitals may experience higher than normal volumes at various times of the year. NH emergency rooms tend to patients who have experienced a sudden and/or unusual change in their health. This includes, but isn’t limited to, breathing difficulties, severe bleeding or pain, broken bones, chest pain, overdoses and eye injuries.