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Archived - Outbreak of Gastrointestinal Illness at Emerald Lake Lodge, Yoho National Park - Updated

Starting date:
May 28, 2004
Posting date:
May 28, 2004
Type of communication:
Advisory
Subcategory:
Drugs
Source of recall:
Health Canada
Issue:
Contamination
Audience:
General Public
Identification number:
RA-11000313

Backgrounders: Public Health Advisory

Health Canada, Parks Canada and regional health authorities continue to monitor and investigate an outbreak of gastrointestinal (GI) illness at a private hotel in Yoho National Park, British Columbia.

On May 25, Health Canada, Parks Canada and regional health authorities became aware of elevated levels of gastrointestinal illness associated with individuals that either worked, visited or stayed at the Emerald Lake Lodge. About 250 cases have been identified to date. The causative agent has now been identified as norovirus or Norwalk-Like Virus (NLV). The illness is not usually serious, but causes vomiting, diarrhea, nausea and some stomach cramping. It lasts about 1 to 2 days and usually resolves without treatment. However, the effects of this illness may be more severe for older persons, those with weakened immune systems, expectant mothers and the very young.

The Lodge is currently closed for environmental cleaning as a preventative measure to assist in breaking the transmission cycle of the disease. A boil water advisory remains in effect at the Lodge. Lodge management have been very cooperative in these efforts.

Illness due to Norovirus/NLV is common worldwide. Outbreaks generally occur where people congregate in close quarters for extended periods.

Noroviruses are found in the stool or vomit of infected people. People can become infected with the virus in several ways, including:

  • eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated with norovirus;
  • touching surfaces or objects contaminated with norovirus;
  • having direct contact with another person who is infected and showing symptoms.

Recommendations

If symptoms persist beyond 72 hours, contact your physician.

Travellers are reminded that they should wash their hands after using the bathroom and before handling food, as hand-washing breaks the chain of transmission for the spread of the disease.

When people are ill with vomiting and diarrhea, they should drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.

Travellers can transmit the illness during the acute stage of the illness and up to 72 hours after symptoms disappear. This risk should be considered when travelling on common carriers such as buses, trains, airplanes, ferries and cruise ships, and when preparing food.

Norwalk is a very hardy virus, capable of surviving on practically any surface including door handles, sinks, railings and glassware. To break the cycle of transmission, a thorough cleaning and disinfection of contaminated surfaces immediately after an episode of illness using a bleach-based cleaner is recommended. This includes, immediate removal and washing of clothing or linens that may be contaminated after an episode of illness (use hot water and soap).

Health Canada, Parks Canada and regional health authorities will continue to monitor and investigate the situation. The federal and provincial governments view the health and safety of Canadians and travellers to Canada as paramount. All measures necessary to preserve health will be implemented.


Media enquiries

Tamara Magnan
Health Canada
(780) 495-4688

Public enquiries

Kirt Sellers
BC Interior Health Authority
Invermere Office: (250) 342-2360
Golden Office: (250) 344-7555