Norovirus outbreak in elderly home under close watch

Hong Kong (HKSAR) - The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health is investigating a norovirus gastroenteritis outbreak at an elderly home and reminded people and management of institutions to strictly observe environmental and personal hygiene to prevent norovirus gastroenteritis.

The gastroenteritis outbreak affected 21 residents at an elderly home in Fanling. The affected, two men and 19 women, developed symptoms of acute gastroenteritis including diarrhoea and vomiting since January 30.

Twenty of the affected residents sought medical consultation. Eight of them were admitted to North District Hospital.

The stool samples of three affected residents tested positive for norovirus.

Officers of the CHP have visited the institution and provided health advice to staff on proper disinfection, disposal of vomitus and faecal matter, as well as personal and food hygiene.

The CHP will closely monitor the institution and provide further advice if necessary.

A CHP spokesman said norovirus infection could be transmitted via contaminated food or water, contact with vomitus or faeces or any objects contaminated by the virus.

"Proper disposal of vomitus and faecal matter and adequate disinfection of the environment are very important in preventing and controlling the spread of the disease," he said.

To prevent the spread of viral gastroenteritis, the public should take the following precautions:
* wash hands thoroughly before handling food and eating and after using the toilet or handling vomitus or faecal matter;
* wear gloves when disposing of vomitus or faeces; and wash hands afterwards;
* clean and disinfect contaminated areas or items promptly and thoroughly with diluted household bleach (by adding one part of household bleach containing 5.25% sodium hypochlorite to 49 parts of water);
* maintain good indoor ventilation; and
* make sure that food, particularly seafood and shellfish, is cooked thoroughly.

Published on: 2011-02-07

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