Gastroenteritis outbreak at Dunedin Hospital closes two wards, 21 people infected

21 cases of gastroenteritis outbreak have been confirmed at Dunedin Hospital.
21 cases of gastroenteritis outbreak have been confirmed at Dunedin Hospital. Photo credit: Google Maps

Southern District Health Board says it is experiencing a gastroenteritis outbreak at Dunedin Hospital that has closed two wards. 

Southern District Health Board chief operating officer Hamish Brown told Newshub the outbreak began on January 10, but it's still trying to determine how the virus came into the hospital. 

"Given the nature of these viruses, it’s difficult to identify when or how it came into the hospital," Brown said. 

"What we can say is that Infection and Prevention Control measures were implemented immediately to limit the spread, working alongside our Public Health Team."

Brown said that they have confirmed two wards with Norovirus and they are waiting for the results of a third. 

"At present, we have confirmed 15 patients and six staff have had/currently have the virus," he said.

"The affected wards are presently closed to visitors and we are not allowing any patients in or out of these wards. No patients were moved and we are reviewing these settings daily."

Brown said anyone infected with the virus must stay away from work, school or preschool until they have been symptom-free for at least 48 hours.

All staff at the hospital will be using "vigorous" protection measures while they try to handle the outbreak. 

"We know that Norovirus is the major cause of nonbacterial gastroenteritis, and can remain viable in the environment for up to 12 days," Brown said. "This means that our staff are using vigorous infection and prevention controls including PPE, as well as increased cleaning measures.

"Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and diarrhoea. Vomiting is more common in young people, and diarrhoea in adults."

He said that symptoms begin one-two days after exposure to the virus and last one to two days. 

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