A hospital in Ottawa has cancelled some surgeries after an outbreak of a stomach virus.

About 13 patients at the Queensway-Carleton hospital were found to have been carrying a virus similar to norovirus, said Inez Landry, the hospital's director of infection control.

Such viruses cause symptoms that include fever, vomiting, cramps and diarrhea.

Landry said the affected Queensway-Carleton patients, who have moderate but not violent symptoms, have been isolated. That resulted in a shortage of beds that forced the hospital to cancel some surgeries. Two wards are also closed to visitors.

The illness typically lasts 48 hours, but symptoms can persist for as long as 72 hours in elderly patients.

Landry said the virus is making its way through Ottawa right now.

"I know of whole offices that have had staff off sick with this kind of thing," she said.

Daycares affected

The virus is also affecting some daycares. Rose Wright, who works at the Churchill Carling daycare, said several children have come down with symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea and high temperatures, but there hasn't yet been a big outbreak. The daycare's two locations serve children aged 18 months to five years and aged five to 10.

Wright said the affected children become whiny and listless. She and other daycare workers are asking parents to keep the children home if they are sick.

"It'll just make it easier on the daycare and the teachers, 'cause we all end up with it too," she said with a laugh.

In the meantime, the daycare is taking care to disinfect toys often and floors daily.

Dr. Nadine Sicard, associate medical officer of health for Ottawa Public Health, said outbreaks of stomach viruses are typical for this season.

Such viruses are very contagious, but are not transmissible by air. Instead, they require exposure to vomit or fecal matter.

"It doesn't take a lot of exposure to get it and they tend to mutate often," Sicard said.

That means people's immune systems need to constantly adapt.

She recommended that to keep from getting the virus, people should wash their hands after using the washroom, before eating, and frequently when caring for someone who is sick. If no soap and running water are available, she recommended using a hand sanitizer that contains at least 70 per cent alcohol.

For those who contract the illness, she recommended rest and lots of fluids, which should allow recovery within a few days.