Rest homes quarantined after gastro outbreak

20:26, Mar 13 2014

An outbreak of gastroenteritis has caused havoc for two Invercargill rest homes this week.

Rowena Jackson Retirement Village and Vickery Court Rest Home have implemented quarantine practices after some residents and staff fell ill with the virus.

David King, the corporate affairs manager for Ryman Healthcare, which owns Rowena Jackson, said the outbreak had resulted in one person being taken to hospital.

"None of our care residents have been hospitalised, but one resident who lives independently [on-site] was hospitalised by their GP," he said.

Mr King said management had restricted visits, confined patients and enforced strict hygiene precautions for anyone dealing with affected residents.

Presbyterian Support Southland director of services for older people Julia Russell said the outbreak at Vickery Court Rest Home had affected half of the residents and a third of staff.


"It broke out last week, but we have had amazing support from family and staff. It has been humbling to watch people rally together," she said.

Public Health South medical officer Keith Reid said small outbreaks of norovirus, the virus most commonly responsible for gastroenteritis, was occurring in the community but was not widespread.

Public Health South women's, children's and public health medical director Marion Poore said rest homes were at risk because people lived in close proximity and had reduced immunity.

Dr Poore said outbreaks were notifiable to public health.

"When we receive them we work with the institution to bring the outbreak under control as quickly as possible. Most rest homes have joined our regular training programme on how to identify and respond so they are well prepared," she said.


Keeping Gastro at bay

The best way to minimise getting and spreading the illness:

1. Good hand hygiene practices – washing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds and drying them thoroughly with a clean towel. This is important after working with animals such as sheep, dairy cattle and calves and before eating or smoking.

2. People coming in from farm work should remove their soiled gear before coming inside the house or coming in contact with young children.

3. People who become ill should stay away from work, school and preschool until symptom-free for 48 hours to reduce the risk of spreading the infection to other people.

4. People who have had a cryptosporidium infection (an animal- or water-borne gastroenteritis virus) should not use swimming pools for at least two weeks their symptoms. 


The Southland Times