Virus outbreak at hospital and aged care facility

AN OUTBREAK of norovirus has been recorded at Ipswich Hospital with two wards closed for a short period the past month.

West Moreton Hospital and Health Service executive director medical services, clinical governance, education and research Mary Seddon said a number of patients showing symptoms were isolated and were placed under observation.

"Wards 7C and 4G were closed for a short period and did not accept any new admissions during this time," Dr Seddon said.

"Access to these wards was restricted with all visitors and staff required to wear personal protective equipment when with the isolated patients.

"All hospital staff were put on alert to take the appropriate precautions and remained alert for norovirus symptoms as there was potential for cases to be identified in other wards."

In response to the outbreak, several clinical processes were reviewed, including admissions to and from the Emergency Department.

The news follows a similar outbreak at Nowlanvil Aged Care Facility reported in Wednesday's QT. The Flinders View facility notified the Public Health Unit after 26 residents had symptoms of vomiting and diarrhoea.

It is the third outbreak the facility has faced this year, putting the centre in quarantine.

Dr Seddon said The West Moreton Public Health Unit provided guidance and support in investigating outbreaks of gastroenteritis to identify and contain the source of infection.

"They liaise closely with facilities to ensure appropriate outbreak management procedures are in place," she said.

"Gastroenteritis is a common condition found within our community and periodic outbreaks can occur especially in communal living settings such as aged care or child care facilities and schools."

Gastroenteritis is the inflammation of the stomach and intestines. The main symptoms are diarrhoea and vomiting.

Gastro may be caused by viruses, bacteria and parasites.

Some types of gastroenteritis are highly infectious.

Most infections resolve without treatment.

It is important to drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.

Severe symptoms may require medical intervention including hospitalisation.

The most important factor in preventing the spread of gastroenteritis is maintaining good hygiene practices such as regular hand washing and appropriate food handling practices.

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