New Brunswick

Schools, nursing homes contend with stomach virus outbreaks

New Brunswick has marked two norovirus outbreaks this year, alongside clusters of a similar illness in schools, child-care centres and long-term care homes.

N.B. seeing 'clusters' of stomach infections across the province, not all confirmed to be norovirus

Two outbreaks of norovirus have been detected in New Brunswick so far this year, a number that's not unusual according to Public Health.

New Brunswick is warning some of its departments of an increase in stomach viruses across the province.

Public Health has marked two norovirus outbreaks this year, alongside "clusters" of similar illnesses in schools, child-care centres and long-term care homes, according to spokesperson Bruce Macfarlane. 

On its website, Public Health describes the virus as stomach flu.

Macfarlane said there have been clusters of a gastrointestinal illness with "noro-like symptoms" in these locations all around the province, but none but two have been confirmed to be caused by norovirus. He did not say how many clusters are being investigated.

New Brunswick's most recent communicable disease report shows the province had nine outbreaks of norovirus, three of rotavirus and one each of adenovirus, sapovirus and Salmonella in 2018-19.

The stomach flu spreads easily in long-term care homes and schools because of the close quarters. (CBC)

Macfarlane said these infections can happen year-round, and are not unusual, but it's important to alert departments in charge of group homes, for example, because the illness is quite infectious.

"Long-term care facilities were reminded with two or more residents and/or staff experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea must report to regional Public Health," he said.

Isabelle Landry, a spokesperson for Shannex, said there was a gastrointestinal outbreak at Brunswick Hall, a licensed special care home in Fredericton.

The outbreak was declared officially over by Public Health on April 11, she said.

"Our team at Brunswick Hall did an exceptional job caring for residents during this time and we are grateful for their efforts."

She said Brunswick Hall has an infection-prevention expert who takes charge of preventing and managing outbreaks, and residents have their own washrooms, but spread still happens.

"Gastrointestinal viruses can be very contagious and spread easily from person to person. They are most common in fall and winter," she said.

Landry said she could not say whether anyone was taken to hospital because of the outbreak "for privacy reasons."

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