British Columbia

Norovirus spreading quickly in Vancouver area

A new strain of norovirus continues to spread across B.C.'s Lower Mainland, now reaching Eagle Ridge Hospital in Port Moody.
Another hospital closes a ward to try to contain highly infectious gastrointestinal bug 1:38

A new strain of norovirus continues to spread in B.C.’s Lower Mainland, now reaching Eagle Ridge Hospital in Port Moody.

Fraser Health Authority officials have restricted access to a ward at the hospital in an attempt to contain the outbreak.

Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster has already closed wards in the past week to prevent the spread of norovirus, as has Vancouver General Hospital.

The gastrointestinal virus is highly infectious and causes severe vomiting and diarrhea.

The illness contagion is spreading in daycares and elsewhere, too, says Dr. Paul Van Buynder, of the Fraser Health Authority.

"This is everywhere. I mean, this is not an ‘Eagle Ridge outbreak,’" said Buynder. "Next week it will be Boston Bar or Chilliwack or whatever. We're just going to have a bad year with norovirus this year, because of the new strain."

The strain was first detected earlier this year in Sydney, Australia, and has been causing illness in Europe, too.

It’s spreading quickly because people don't have immune defences against the new form of the virus, Buynder said.

Buynder said people generally recover in one to two days, without medical treatment.

"But they need to be careful with cleaning and hand washing, because they can spread it to their family and their vulnerable grandparents very, very quickly."

Because this virus spreads so quickly, health officials are asking people with symptoms to stay home from work or school, and avoid hospitals unless treatment is necessary. Even after you feel better, you may still be infectious for another 72 hours.

With files from the CBC's Lisa Johnson