Stomach bug alert at rest home

SARAH DUNN
Last updated 13:00 11/02/2014

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Visitors are being warned about a vomiting bug at Whareama rest home in Stoke.

Manager Susanne Harzer said more than 10 people at the 72-person rest home had been infected with a norovirus that caused vomiting and diarrhoea. Several members of staff also succumbed.

The first cases were reported to Nelson Bays Primary Health on February 1. The centre, which is owned by Oceania Group, is not accepting visitors, and all of the residents' next of kin have been told to stay away.

"We don't let visitors in for their own safety," Ms Harzer said.

She said the centre was now experiencing the "tail end" of the virus, and she expected to be able to open Whareama's doors within 48 hours.

"It's just a bug that happens sometimes," she said. "It's summer, it has been hot, this has nothing to do with our infection control policy or the way we handle it."

She said she knew of several other rest homes in the Nelson area and Oceania Group which had experienced norovirus outbreaks in the past year.

Nelson medical officer of health, Ed Kiddle, said norovirus outbreaks had become relatively common in recent years, and rest homes tended to have good procedures to make sure they ran their course.

Dr Kiddle said noroviruses were always present in the community and outbreaks occurred when many people were present in one space together.

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