Alaska Airlines: Pilot who fainted had stomach bug

The Alaska Airlines pilot who lost consciousness during a Seattle-bound flight Thursday night, prompting an emergency landing, was suffering from food poisoning or a stomach virus, an airline spokesman said Friday.

The co-pilot of Flight 473 safely landed the jetliner in Portland, Ore., after declaring an emergency to get priority care for the pilot, spokesman Paul McElroy said. All of the airline’s pilots are trained to fly single-handedly.

McElroy said the pilot was in good condition Friday at a hospital where doctors examined him. The airline declined to release the pilot’s name or age.

The Boeing 737-700 with 116 passengers and five crew members left Los Angeles at about 6:30 p.m. and had been scheduled to arrive in Seattle at 9:30 p.m. It touched down in Portland at about 9 p.m.

The pilot lost consciousness near Eugene, Ore., and hit his head, McElroy said. He then later regained consciousness and left the cockpit. A doctor aboard the flight tended to the pilot in the cabin until the plane landed and was met by medical personnel on the runway.

Passenger Hylan Slobodkin told KOMO News that he saw the pilot pass out when he went into the cabin.

“Came out of the cockpit and collapsed on the aisle,” he said. “Hit his head on something and called doctors, and fortunately there was a young woman who was a fourth-year medical student who ran to his aid.”

McElroy said the pilot has been flying for Seattle-based Alaska Air Group Inc. for 28 years and was current on his six-month medical evaluation. The co-pilot is an 11-year Alaska Air veteran.

On Jan. 22, the co-pilot on an Alaska Airlines flight from Seattle to Las Vegas fainted briefly, and the pilot requested emergency landing priority to get prompt medical assistance for him.

“At this point we do not believe there was a connection between the two incidents,” McElroy said.

He said pilots are highly encouraged to report if they’re not feeling well, but in both of the recent cases, the “pilots felt fine when they reported for duty.” Their dizziness and fainting came very suddenly, he said.

Twenty passengers with a tight schedule for connecting flights were put on a Horizon Air shuttle flight to Seattle on Thursday night, McElroy said. A new pilot was dispatched to Portland to fly the remaining passengers to Seattle on the same plane.



Stomach flu quarantines 700 inmates at Cook County Jail

An outbreak of the stomach flu in about 30 prisoners has prompted a quarantine of one of the largest divisions in the Cook County Jail, officials said Wednesday.

The quarantine of Division II will remain in effect until further notice, according to a press release issued by Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart. Detainees in the affected unit will have limited movement and visitations will be prohibited during the quarantine.

To prevent further exposure, the division’s living, dining, shower, toilet areas as well as all high-touch surface areas are being disinfected. The inmates’ linens have been changed and are being laundered separately, Dart said.

Sophia Ansari, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office, said as of Wednesday afternoon about 30 inmates have fallen ill. Symptoms include nausea, diarrhea and vomiting.

Ansari said the quarantine could possibly put pressure on the jail’s finances over the next few days.

“The inmates housed in Division II are more minimum-security prisoners and they’re the ones that help out in a lot of the programs within the jail,” she said. Because of the quarantine, prisoners within this division will be unable to participate. As a result, medium-security inmates may be needed to cover the food transportation and cleaning responsibilities.

Ansari said medium-security inmates would require more supervision from officers and could drive up costs. Additional staff members might also be needed if the flu bug continues to spread.

Jail employees from the quarantined division are being closely monitored to prevent an outbreak within the staff, according to the release. Exposure to sick detainees is being limited and the sheriff’s office is closely monitoring the jail to ensure the virus does not spread to other divisions.



CDC: New version of stomach bug causing US illness

NEW YORK (AP) – Health officials say a new strain of stomach bug that’s sweeping the globe is taking over in the U.S.

In the last four months, more than 140 outbreaks in the U.S. have been caused by the new Sydney strain of norovirus. These kinds of contagious bugs cause bouts of diarrhea and vomiting.

The new strain may not be unusually dangerous; some scientists don’t think it is. But it is different, and many people might not be able to fight off its gut-wrenching effects.

It often spreads in places like schools, cruise ships and nursing homes. The new strain was blamed for a recent outbreak on the Queen Mary 2.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on the new strain Thursday.



Beware of Stomach Bug in Anne Arundel

There is no vaccine for the highly contagious stomach “flu,” which isn’t really a flu at all, so make sure you’re washing your hands properly.

Handwashing is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs, diseases and other conditions. It’s so important to perform this task properly that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a whole website dedicated to handwashing instructions.

Throughout the year—and not just flu season—handwashing can help prevent the spread of viruses that are highly contagious, such as noroviruses or “stomach bugs.”

How to recognize symptoms and tips to avoid infection were outlined in a recent Patch blog by David Clark, Patient First community relations coordinator. Clark wrote:

Despite being referred to as stomach flu, norovirus is not really the flu, which is a respiratory infection. Norovirus inflames the stomach and intestines which causes stomach pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. Some people may also have a low-grade fever, chills, headache, body aches and fatigue. These symptoms can show up suddenly from one to three days after you are exposed to the virus.

A health officer with the Anne Arundel County Department of Health told The Capital that more gastroenteritis (caused by noroviruses) cases could be expected in February and March.

According to the health department’s website, there is no antibiotic treatment available and there is no vaccine to prevent gastroenteritis. Those infected should drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.

For prevention, washing your hands is key to keeping germs at bay. In situations where soap and water are not available, the CDC recommends using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol but also warns that sanitizers do not eliminate all types of germs.



New Stomach Bug: The Latest Norovirus And Everything You Need To Know

A new strain of the stomach bug norovirus, or what points out as “the winter vomiting disease,” has hit the United States hard after spreading around the world in places such as Japan and Western Europe, according to reports.

Since September, more than 140 outbreaks of the new stomach bug in the U.S. have been caused by what the Center for Disease Control and Prevention calls the new GII.4 Sydney strain of norovirus. The CDC says the proportion of norovirus outbreaks jumped dramatically from 19 percent in September to 58 percent in December.

A report from the CDC released Thursday says that the new stomach bug, first identified in Australia in March of last year as the Sydney strain, is now accounting for about 60 percent of norovirus outbreaks in the U.S. Every two or three years, a new strain evolves — the last strain coming in 2009 — and when that happens, people who already had previous versions of the stomach bug are more likely to get it again. While scientists do say the new stomach bug isn’t life-threatening, it’s nonetheless different, and many people may not be able to fight off the effects — bouts of vomiting and diarrhea for a few days.

What’s more is that the new stomach bug’s appearance, which is actually common this time of year, typically striking between November and April with the peak usually occurring in January, has coincided with the recent influenza craze across the country, which might be contributing to the idea that Americans are experiencing an abnormally bad flu season. However, experts say the outbreaks aren’t related.

“Right now, it’s too soon to tell whether the new strain of norovirus will lead to more outbreaks than in previous years,” said Dr. Aron Hall, a CDC epidemiologist specializing in viruses. “However, CDC continues to work with state partners to watch this closely and see if the strain is associated with more severe illness.”

Norovirus, now the most common cause of food poisoning in the U.S. once known as Norwalk virus, is highly contagious and often spreads quickly in places like schools, cruise ships, nursing homes and other confined spaces containing a large group of people, especially during the winter. Last month, norovirus infected 220 people on the Queen Mary II during a Caribbean cruise.

“You can be feeling quite fine one minute and within several hours suffer continuous vomiting and diarrhea,” said Ian Goodfellow, a prominent researcher at England’s University of Cambridge to the Associated Press.

Here’s more of what you need to know about the new strain of the stomach bug norovirus:

– It can be spread making contact with food handlers infected with it who don’t wash their hands well or the surfaces they use and through the air via droplets or particles that fly when a sick person vomits (projectile vomiting)

– Each year, norovirus is the leading cause of acute gastroenteritis, causing more than 21 million illnesses and 800 deaths, according to the CDC

– For those infected, there’s no medicine, but rather preventative measures, including washing hands with soap and water, disinfecting surfaces, rinsing fruits and vegetables, cooking shellfish thoroughly and not preparing food or caring for others while ill

– Young children and the elderly are most at risk of norovirus and the serious complications it brings, usually because of the danger of dehydration from rapid fluid loss, which can cause blood pressure to drop, which in turn can result in fainting that can lead to falls

– Those infected can experience symptoms for a few days, so they must do their best to stay hydrated



Tony Danza’s stomach bug freaks out passengers on first class flight

While the flu epidemic has most Americans bathing in Purel and clamoring for vaccines, Tony Danza freaked out several passengers, including Kate Upton, in first class aboard an American Airlines flight to New York from Los Angeles this weekend.

Danza was spotted vomiting into a paper bag during the flight, which unnerved passengers sitting nearby. A source told us that Danza explained he caught the flu “from his grandson or something.”

Some passengers then scurried to switch seats, as to not catch his germs, though Upton stayed put. “I feel bad for him, but stay home if you are sick,” said one fellow flier.

A friend of Danza confirmed he had a “24-hour stomach bug” but is “doing much better.”



Stomach virus trumps flu shot

I am a germophobe. I am not ashamed of this, nor am I ashamed to admit that in response to the flu epidemic sweeping the nation, I recently fashioned an 80s “fanny pack” from my middle school days into a Lysol-can wielding holster, using its original zipper pouch to hold a 32-ounce bottle of hand sanitizer.

This comes in handy when out and about since I cannot very well sit in my sparkling clean home all of the time. I would be high on bleach fumes, and more importantly, I need to get out to Target at least four times a week.

I wash my hands (if dipping them in pure rubbing alcohol counts as washing), I take my vitamins, I exercise many times per week, and I receive my flu shot each year. Still, I was stricken down last week. All the spray bleach, Clorox wipes and disinfectant spray in the world did not keep me from the dreaded stomach virus.

Somehow, the little buggers permeated what I thought was my impenetrable germ shield I created in and around my home. Apparently, vomit germs trump all others.

I learned a few things during my 36-hour intestinal bout. During a 10 minute jag in which I felt somewhat human, I found myself googling fun facts about the stomach virus. It is often called the stomach flu, but it is not caused by the influenza viruses.

When I somehow managed to dodge the stomach bug even when surrounded by classrooms of elementary-school children who serve as hosts for all things viral and bacterial, I just wrote it off to the flu shot. I guess I was mistaken.

Thankfully, the stomach virus does not have the duration of the regular flu. The stomach virus comes on quick, has its victim chained to the porcelain throne for about 6-8 hours, then leaves behind a trail of aching muscles, a pounding head and a stomach that aches from being cleansed of its last five meals.

I also learned that although 36 hours may not seem like a long time, much havoc can be wreaked upon a home left overseen by a husband and 7 year-old boy. On one of my ventures down the stairs after feeling a tiny bit better, I was welcomed by three open cereal boxes, saltine crackers strewn about, pajamas and underwear on the living room floor, a front hallway bathroom that looked like someone tap danced in mud on the white tile, and a hamper that appeared to belong to a family of 12 rather than our family of three. This sight was almost as bad as the scene in the bathroom just hours before.

My last lesson was more of a reminder about the impact that this little sick day would have on my schedule. As mentioned earlier, many things happened to my home in the short time I spent holed up in my bedroom. Although I insanely spray bleached, Clorox wiped, and Lysol disinfected my bathroom after each stomach wrenching hurl, the rest of the house did not have my obsessive compulsive attention.

Just 36 hours after feeling like death was knocking on my door, I began a two-day cleaning spree in which every linen was washed in hot water and every hard surface was wiped or sprayed until it gleamed. Dog hair promptly got sucked up from the area rugs and corners while bills screamed at me to pay them. Plus I had work to do, like pay-the-bills work that didn’t get done while I was taking a sick day.

Perhaps the biggest lesson learned in all of this is sometimes, even when hugging the john and praying that an intestine doesn’t come up, crawling back into bed and letting someone take care of you is kind of nice. Even if it means you have to clean up after yourself.

A special thank you to hubby for taking care of me, even if the house was about to self-implode.



Stomach flu stifles Western Michigan basketball leading scorer Nate Hutcheson

KALAMAZOO, MI – Steve Hawkins was fully engaged during his Western Michigan University basketball team’s practice Friday afternoon at University Arena as the Broncos prepared for tonight’s road game at Northern Illinois.

WMU senior Nate Hutcheson, on the other hand, probably would have preferred to skip Friday altogether. The 6-foot-7 forward sat courtside during the practice in a sweatshirt and sweatpants, much of the time with his head in his hands as he battled the effects of stomach flu.

Hawkins was non-committal about Hutcheson’s status for the Broncos’ (9-7, 1-2 Mid-American Conference) game at 8 p.m. (Eastern time) today in DeKalb, Ill., but chances are the team’s leading scorer at 11.6 points per contest will suit up against the Huskies (3-12, 1-2).

WMU senior reserve forward Dan Loney and freshman wing Charles Harris, on the other hand, will not play. Loney, who does the dirty work off the Broncos’ bench, is out with a concussion he suffered in Wednesday’s 79-56 home win over Toledo. Harris is still on the mend from a separated shoulder.

Hawkins said that several of the Broncos have had a stomach bug this season.

“I’ve had it three different times now and if it’s the same strain, which I’m not a doctor, then it was roughly a 24-hour bug,” he said after practice Friday, before the Broncos boarded the bus for their road trip to the Chicagoland area. “And so I know (Hutcheson is) pushing fluids. I don’t know if he’s still throwing up or not. I know he was last night and this morning, got the chills and all that.

“If we can keep fluids in him, it helps that the game is not until 7 (Central time) and not a 2 o’clock start. So probably every hour matters.”



Is It Influenza or a Stomach Bug?

In tonight’s Healthier Me, while influenza cases are spiking, so are cases of the stomach flu.

Dr. Kirsten Juhl: “Viral gastroenteritis is not the same as influenza. Both are caused by viruses. Respiratory influenza is what you get the flu shot for; it causes coughing and possibly pneumonia. The other bug causes diarrhea and vomiting and … that kind of illness.”

Covering your mouth when you sneeze or cough and good handwashing will help prevent the spread of both illnesses.

Whether you have the stomach flu or respiratory influenza, doctors recommend staying home for 24 hours after symptoms disappear so you don’t spread the infection, and they remind you that dehydration is a big concern if you have the stomach bug.

Keep in contact with your doctor if your symptoms persist, and don’t spread the germs to others by going to hospitals and clinics when you don’t need to.



The Stomach Bug/Flu in Children: What Works & What Doesn’t

You know of it as the stomach bug or the stomach flu (even though it is technically not related to the actual flu). Medical doctors refer to it as gastroenteritis because it involves inflammation (which is what “itis” means in Greek) of the stomach (gastro) and small intestines (entero). The small intestine is the part of the intestine that takes in all of the nutrients the body needs.

Regardless of what you call this condition, it is not something you want to have. Common signs and symptoms include diarrhea, stomach pain, stomach cramps, and vomiting. It is a common reason for visits to the doctor, urgent care centers, and emergency rooms.

The stomach bug can occur in adults but it is very common in children. When it occurs in children, it is usually caused by a virus known as rotavirus. By age five, nearly every child in the world has been infected by rotavirus at least once.

In a new review study published in Europe, researchers presented a summary of the best evidence for treatment of acute gastroenteritis in children. The authors found that oral rehydration (drinking fluids by mouth) is central to treatment. Specific hypotonic solutions (composed of salt, sugar, and water) are used for this rehydration.

Although effective, oral rehydration is not always used because it does not decrease the amount of bowel movements, does not decrease the length of the illness, and the liquid is not something children enjoy due to the strong salty taste. There are continuing efforts to improve the taste and effectiveness of these liquids for children.

The authors found that the anti-diarrhea medication, Racecadotril (acetorphan) can be an effective additional treatment along with oral rehydration. The authors also noted that a natural clay known as smectite can be an effective additional treatment to oral rehydration. However, neither smectite nor Racecadotril are available for use in the U.S.

When oral rehydration is not feasible, another option is nasogastric rehydration. In this technique, fluid is directed to the stomach through a tube placed in the nose that connects it to the stomach. This technique is sometimes used over a 24 hour period but newer evidence shows that doing this rapidly over 4 hours is also effective.

The authors found that nasogastric hydration can be an effective or better than intravenous hydration, which is when a needle is inserted through the vein and liquid enters the body. For cases of intravenous hydration, evidence on the amount of fluid to administer was not consistent. The authors considered 20 ml/kg to be appropriate, which is standard intravenous rehydration.

Medications used to stop vomiting are known as anti-emetics. A common medicine used for this purpose is Ondansetron (Zofran). The authors noted that this medication does reduce vomiting in young children with the stomach bug but that there was no evidence that other medications were useful for this purpose.

It was noted that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends heart monitoring in patients receiving Zofran who have potential electrolyte abnormalities (which someone with the stomach bug would) because it can lead to abnormal and potentially deadly heart rhythms. Electrolytes are chemical substances that are able to conduct electricity after they are melted or dissolved in water.

The authors reported on one European study that did not show that the element, zinc, was useful in treating gastroenteritis. Lastly, the authors found that some probiotics are helpful in managing diarrhea gastroenteritis. Probiotics are live microorganisms that provide health benefits to the host.

Specific probiotics found to be helpful were Lactobacillus GG and S. boulardii but that others may prove helpful in the future as well as synbiotics. Synbiotics are combinations of probiotics and prebiotics. Prebiotics are undigestible food ingredients that promote growth and/or activity in the digestive system in ways claimed to be beneficial to health.

Reference: Pie?cik-Lech M, Shamir R, Guarino A, Szajewska H. (2013). Review article: the management of acute gastroenteritis in children. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 37(3): 289-303.



Flu, acute stomach bug breaks out in long-term care facilities

CLAREMORE — The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) Acute Disease Service (ADS) has issued reports of influenza and acute gastroenteritis outbreaks in long-term care facilities (LTCF). As flu activity increases, so does the risk of illness among LTCF residents and staff.

Since Sept. 30, eight deaths and 484 hospitalizations have been reported to the OSDH. Counties of residents with flu-associated deaths include- Creek, Mayes, Muskogee, Pittsburg, Rogers and Tulsa County.

According to a release from the Oklahoma Health Alert Network five LTCFs located across the state reported outbreaks of flu among residents and employees.

In addition, five acute gastroenteritis outbreaks involving LTCF residents and staff have been reported to the ADS so far this month. Acute Gastroenteritis, a severe inflammation or infection of the digestive tract, can be deadly if left untreated.

Acute gastroenteritis is a severe inflammation or infection of the digestive tract, particularly the stomach and intestines and can be deadly if left untreated.

According to OSDH’s public health fact sheet the microorganism Norovirus, causes acute gastro, spreads quickly and is often responsible for outbreaks in institutional settings. Achieving high seasonal flu vaccine rates is the most important means to preventing an outbreak in a LTCF. Facilities should review immunization records of all residents to ensure they have been provided the opportunity to receive this year’s flu vaccine.

OSDH Director of Communications Leslea Bennett-Webb said Norovirus is often thought of to be a stomach flu because the side effects are mostly in the abdominal, intestinal area and can include vomiting and diarreha.
“Influenza is actually a respiratory problem,” said Webb. “There is no such thing as a stomach flu.”

No specific treatment for Norovirus is available. The best prevention against both the flu and norovirus is to wash hands with a generous amount of soap, she said.

Outbreaks have been linked to sick food handlers, contaminated shell fish or water contaminated with sewage.



Stomach bug added to mental health ‘crisis’

MANCHESTER – The stomach flu played a substantial role in a key date last week, a day when 31 mentally ill people languished in hospital emergency rooms, unable to be properly placed in a treatment facility, health officials acknowledged this week.

The Cypress Center, a 16-bed residential mental health treatment facility in Manchester, could not accept new patients and had 13 idle beds because of an outbreak of the highly contagious norovirus, said Kendall Snow, spokesman for the Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester.

On that day, Jan. 7, advocates for the mentally ill announced that 31 adults and three children were undergoing a crisis and waiting in hospital emergency rooms for placement into a treatment facility. The number represented a record, and highlighted a crisis in the underfunded mental health system, advocates said.

Ken Norton, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, said he was unaware of the situation at Cypress Center when he announced the backlog in emergency rooms.

The previous record backlog was 26, he said, and even if the Cypress Center beds were available, the backlog would be large.

“Twenty people waiting in an emergency room instead of 30? It’s still a crisis with 20 people,” he said.

Nancy Rollins, associate New Hampshire commissioner of Health and Human Services, said state officials heard from the Riverbend community mental health center on the morning of Jan. 7. The day was a Monday, which officials said is the heaviest for admissions to mental health treatment facilities.

Concord Hospital’s yellow pod, the term for the stabilization room, was overloaded, and Riverbend asked the state for help in finding placements.

Usually, Cypress Center can take patients who have been stabilized in an emergency room and agree to go there. It can also take involuntary patients when necessary, Snow said.

But the norovirus had put Cypress Center out of commission. Thirteen beds were empty, and the three patients there had the norovirus. The city Health Department had urged Cypress Center not to admit any more patients, Snow said.
“That just shows how fragile the system is,” Rollins said. “When one thing gets really backed up, there can be a significant impact that ripples through the system.”

Rollins said New Hampshire Hospital ended up adding eight beds in visitor areas to take pressure off Concord Hospital.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the norovirus spreads quickly from person to person, especially among those in confined spaces such as long-term care facilities, day care centers, schools and hotels. It is spread through contaminated food, surfaces, and direct contact with infected people.

“We’re admitting people who are run down to begin with,” and therefore susceptible to disease,” Snow said.

Cypress Center cleaned and sanitized its facility at the end of last week, but officials again had to restrict admissions this week when the norovirus reappeared.



Stomach bug season underway

SPRINGVILLE — The Erie County Department of Health has announced that, in addition to flu season, this is the peak time for the spread of the norovirus, colloquially known as the stomach bug.

“Norovirus is a very contagious virus that can infect anyone at any time. Someone can get it from an infected person, contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces,” said Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein. “Frequent hand-washing is the most important health tip for all of us to remember, so that we don’t spread illness.”

Noroviruses are the most common cause of gastroenteritis in the United States. The Center for Disease Control estimated that more than 20 million annual cases of acute gastroenteritis are caused by noroviruses. Approximately one out of every 15 Americans will contract norovirus illness, each year. The norovirus causes more than 70,000 hospitalizations and 800 deaths, each year, in the United States.

Norovirus illness is sometimes incorrectly labeled “food poisoning” or the “stomach flu.” While food poisoning can be caused by noroviruses, other germs and chemicals can also cause this malady. The norovirus illness is not related to the flu, which is a respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus.

Symptoms of norovirus infection may include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and stomach cramping. Other, less common symptoms include a low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches and fatigue.

Anyone may be infected with noroviruses and become ill. In addition, anyone can get norovirus illness more than once, during his or her lifetime.

This sickness often begins suddenly, but the norovirus illness is usually not serious. Most people get better in one – two­ days, but the norovirus illness can be serious in young children, the elderly and people with other health conditions. It can lead to severe dehydration, hospitalization and death.

There is no vaccine to prevent norovirus infection and no drug exists to treat people who get sick from this virus.

To reduce the chance of getting norovirus, wash hands often, with soap and water, especially after using the toilet, changing diapers and before eating, preparing or handling food. If soap and water are not available, utilize an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Alcohol-based products can reduce the number of germs on hands, in some situations, but are not a substitute for washing with soap and water.

For more information, visit the Erie County Department of Health’s website,; the New York State Department of Health’s website, or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website,



Stomach virus tally hits 28

A total of 28 people have now been affected by a Norwalk-like illness in two units at St. Paul’s Hospital.

The most recent cases were identified Saturday, giving hospital officials reason to think they’ve contained the bug that causes sudden onset vomiting and diarrhea.

“There haven’t been new cases for a few days and we do feel its under control,” said Karen Levesque, director of acute medicine and complex care with the Saskatoon Health Region.

The lab hasn’t confirmed norovirus as the cause of the outbreak but all the symptoms are consistent with it, said Donna Wiens, director of infection prevention and control.

“It’s a viral illness spread by those viruses that are exploded during vomiting and diarrhea and people within short distances can be affected by those viruses,” Wiens said.

Symptoms normally last 12 to 24 hours.

Five workers and 23 patients two units – Surgery 5B and fifth-floor medicine – have been closed to admissions, transfers and visitors since Friday.

“We’re trying to contain further spread of the illness by restricting access to the units by visitors and by limiting the transfer of staff between the affected and other units,” Levesque said.

“We also are encouraging very stringent hand hygiene. We hope these measures will help us contain the virus. We ask for the public’s understanding to not visit these units and for everyone to properly clean their hands at all times where ever they are.”



Hillary Clinton withdraws from Arab trip because of stomach bug

Cancellation of Middle East visit comes as US brands Syrian rebel group with alleged ties to al-Qaida as terrorist organisation

Hillary Clinton has pulled out of a weeklong trip to the Middle East and north Africa because of a stomach virus.

The cancellation of the US secretary of state’s trip came as the Obama administration declared a Syrian rebel group with alleged ties to al-Qaida as a terrorist organisation.

The announcement was one of several Clinton planned to bring with her to the region as part of a US effort to enhance co-operation with moderates in the Syrian coalition fighting Bashar al-Assad and isolate extremists.

Clinton’s deputy, William Burns, will take her place on the trip to Morocco, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates.

“Since she’s still under the weather, we’ll be staying put this week instead of heading to north Africa and the Middle East as originally planned,” Clinton’s spokesman, Philippe Reines, said.

On the first stop, Marrakech on Wednesday, Burns is expected to recognise Syria’s new opposition coalition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people, officials said. Clinton had been expected to make the declaration, which is designed to reward anti-Assad leaders for making their movement more inclusive and facilitate greater US assistance.

Earlier on Monday, the administration took action against the rebel militia Jabhat al-Nusra, which has claimed responsibility for suicide bombings on Syrian government targets and raised fears of growing Islamist extremism among the opposition.

By branding the group a terrorist organisation, the US government is freezing any assets Jabhat al-Nusra holds in the US and barring Americans from doing business with the group.

The action has not been announced officially, but was included on Monday in the Federal Register, the unofficial daily publication for US government rules and notices. In the notice, the state department described the group as part of al-Qaida in Iraq.



Stomach bug hits Vancouver retirement home

VANCOUVER, Wash. — A stomach bug has stricken at least 20 people of the Van Mall Retirement home in Vancouver.

General Manager Bill Hess says gastroenteritis has sickened 10 to 12 employees and 10 residents, including two who were sent to a hospital.

The Clark County health officer, Dr. Alan Melnick, says the home has implemented health department recommendations.

They include admitting no new residents, canceling group dining and activities, and frequent cleaning of common areas with bleach.

The home has 205 residents. They are being served meals in their rooms.



Health officials warn of highly-contagious stomach bug

There have been six confirmed cases of the Norovirus so far.

Branson, Mo. — The Taney County Health Department issued a warning last week that a highly-contagious stomach bug is being passed from person-to-person. Epidemiologists confirmed six cases of the Norovirus so far. The stomach bug causes both vomitting and diarrhea and can last up to three days.

“Typically if you see six cases confirmed that does mean there are others in the community,” said Doctor Cassandra Ashley, M.D., an infectious disease specialist at Skaggs Hospital in Branson.

“The concern is that it could start spreading like wildfire, because this virus in highly contagious,” Ashley said.

According to the Branson Chamber of Commerce, 7 million tourists visit Branson each year. Many of them travel from hundreds of miles away, presenting a unique challenge for preventing disease.

“Of course it would ruin our vacation, said Mark Horn of Plainfield, Indiana.

Horn and his family traveled to Branson to celebrate the holidays the week after Thanksgiving.

“We’re all here together, so it (the virus) could hit 12 people real quick,” Horn said.

The hearty virus can easily spread from person-to-person and through contact with shared surfaces. Taney County Health Department workers said that is what prompted them to alert local businesses.

“With people doing bus activities, eating, touring in big groups, if one person became infected, it could spread throughout that group which could spread throughout the community,” Ashley said.

Health professionals are doing their part to keep that from happening while relying relying on tourists and locals to do the same.

“Hopefully we’re at the tail end and not the beginning of something here,” Ashley said.

The virus can live on shopping carts, door knobs, sinks, and other surfaces. Hand washing is the number one way to prevent it. Doctors also advise wiping surfaces down with bleach.



Squirrel Hayes school shut as pupils struck by norovirus bug

Dozens of pupils and staff at a school were struck down by a stomach bug – forcing it to close for five days.

Squirrel Hayes First School, in Biddulph, has confirmed that a ‘high proportion’ of the school’s 130 children suffered from sickness and diarrhoea after it was hit with the norovirus bug.

The Springfield Road school was forced to close on Friday, November 23 while a deep clean was carried out. It re-opened last Thursday.

Headteacher Erica Smith said: “The school was closed last week due to an outbreak of sickness and diarrhoea.

“Thanks to the hard work of staff and the local authority who performed a deep clean of the school, we were able to open last Thursday, which was earlier than expected. “While they were off school, all children had learning packs via the school’s website and through James Bateman Junior High School so they could continue their learning.

“Parents have been very positive about the action we took to close the school and help contain the infection, and we are pleased to be open again and back to normal.”

Robert Grant’s five-year-old son Leo was struck down with the illness. The 36-year-old, of Biddulph, said: “He came home on the Thursday and he was really sick.

“At first I thought it was just a little bug, but when the school closed I worried it was something more.

“Normally, when children are sick, they are still allowed to go into the school, but the school was completely closed off, which automatically made me think it was contaminated.”

Mr Grant added: “I still don’t know where it came from and the school won’t tell us, but it must have been a pretty bad outbreak for them to close it for so long.”

The news of the bug comes just two weeks after The Sentinel reported how two Staffordshire Moorlands schools suffered an outbreak last month.

Staff at St Giles Catholic Primary School in Cheadle and St Thomas Catholic Primary School in Tean came down with the bug after attending a joint training day.

It resulted in the closure of the Cheadle school for two days.

A spokesman for the Heath and Protection Agency (HPA) said: “Cases of norovirus, also known as the winter vomiting bug, are not uncommon at this time of year and the infection is particularly difficult to contain when it gets into environments where people mix in close proximity, such as schools. ”

“Although people usually recover without treatment in 24-72 hours, it is important to stay away from work, school or college until they have been free of symptoms for at least 48 hours.”



Sick cruise ship passengers may get compensation

Passengers who have fallen ill on a cruise ship that has experienced at least three outbreaks of Norovirus this year may be compensated.

In the past 10 months, hundreds of passengers on the Voyager of the Seas have been affected by the highly contagious stomach bug.

Five passengers on a cruise that docked in Auckland on Wednesday morning were made to stay on the ship because they had been stricken with the virus.

About 135 passengers on an earlier cruise on the ship fell ill last week while travelling from Wellington to Sydney.

Adam Armstrong, commercial director of the ship’s owner Royal Caribbean International, says passengers who fell ill may be compensated on a case-by-case basis.

He defended the ship’s hygiene standards, saying he is confident that they remain high and meet international standards.

Mr Armstrong says Norovirus is a common problem on cruises and the doctor on Voyage of the Seas will continue to monitor the situation.

The megaliner will also visit Tauranga, Napier and Dunedin before returning to Sydney next week.



How you can stop norovirus from spreading

Don’t let the winter vomiting bug catch you or your toddler out this year

Norovirus is a highly contagious bug that has a nasty habit of spreading quickly, leaving vomiting and diarrhoea in its wake. Known as the ‘winter vomiting bug’ – although it can be caught at any time of the year – norovirus is the most common stomach bug in the UK. Prevent and prepare for winter’s worst with our quick-fire dos and don’ts…

Do symptom checks

The key sign of norovirus is a combination of vomiting and diarrhoea. If you’ve caught the bug, you might experience a sudden sick feeling, a fever, headache, stomach cramps and aching limbs.

If you’re pregnant don’t worry. Norovirus won’t directly affect your baby. But, dehydration can lead to an electrolyte imbalance. It’s important to seek medical advice if you spot the signs of norovirus, as it can lead to complications if you become chronically dehydrated.

Young children’s symptoms are generally mild. However, if your toddler’s fever is over 38C, he has vomiting and diarrhoea and is dehydrated, seek urgent medical advice. Dehydration can be recognised by complaints of being thirsty, if little urine is being passed or if he has have sunken eyes. If you’re concerned about any symptoms, speak to your GP or call NHS direct (0845 4647).

Don’t risk infection in the home

Disinfect surfaces, especially those you prepare food on. Wipe door handles with a surface cleaner and ensure your little one’s highchair is properly cleaned. The virus can survive for several days on surfaces or objects that have been touched by someone with norovirus.

Wash soiled clothes and towels. If there’s any sick or food stains on yours or your toddler’s clothes, be sure to handle them carefully with disposable gloves and thoroughly wash them with detergent on a 60C setting for a full cycle, or at 40C with a bleach-based laundry product, and tumble dry at a hot setting, too.

Avoid unwashed salad and make sure food is cooked properly – the juices on meat should run clear and it should be piping hot in the middle. Avoid raw shellfish if you’re pregnant, oysters in particular often carry the bugs that cause this virus.

Do drink up

If you’re pregnant and have diarrhoea make sure you drink lots of water. It can be difficult, but you should try and drink more than the usual recommended 1.2 litres a day. Your doctor may recommend drinking rehydration solution to replace lost liquid and body salts. Ensure you get lots of rest, too.

If your toddler is dehydrated encourage him to drink lots of water. Diluted fruit juice is good, too. Make sure he get lots of rest and eats little things that are easy to digest, like plain biscuits or mashed potato.

Don’t spread infection

Keep away from anyone that might be infected, especially if you’re pregnant or have young children. If you’re infected, be aware that the infection can still be in your system two weeks after the symptoms have passed.

Take children out of nursery or playgroups and wait at least 48 hours after the symptoms have passed to go back.

Opt out of swimming lessons for your child for two weeks after the last episode of suspected norovirus. Research suggests the virus can still be spread through the water, even if the symptoms appear to have passed.

Don’t let children share cups, cutlery or toys that they might put in their mouths. If children don’t wash their hands properly, infected droplets can be transferred onto the things they touch.

Do wash frequently

Wash yours and your children’s hands often with soap and hot water, especially after going to the toilet.

Do use separate towels and flannels to limit the chance of spreading the infection.

Do clean your toilet or child’s potty with disinfectant after each vomiting or diarrhoea episode. It may be unpleasant but it’s better than passing on the bug. Be thorough with the cleaning – including the seat and handle.

Do monitor symptoms

According to the NHS, there is no specific cure, so you have to let the virus run its course. But, symptoms of norovirus usually last between 12 and 60 hours and normally you’ll start to feel better after 48 hours. If symptoms last longer than this seek medical advice.

If you or your child notice these symptoms after a trip abroad you should seek medical advice as it might be a sign of a more serious infection.