Norovirus outbreak hits following Syttende Mai celebration Longyearbyen

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About 20 people were treated for norovirus infections during the days immediately after this year’s Syttende Mai celebration, according to Longyearbyen health officials who said the origin of the outbreak is unknown.

Guests with two separate groups at an eatery in Longyearbyen sought treatment May 18 and 19 after suffering symptoms including vomiting and diarrhea, said John Shaft Bilicz, head of the medical department at Longyearbyen Hospital, in an interview with NRK. He said the hospital sent stool samples from the patients to health officials in Tromsø, who made the norovirus diagnosis.

Although initial speculation is the patients were infected at the eatery, Bilicz said that does not appear to be the case and determining the origin of the virus will likely not be possible.

“There are no reports of new cases in recent days,” he told NRK. “We also believe this is an outbreak that has been locally confined here in Longyearbyen.”

“If it had happened in a kindergarten or in the hospital, the problems have been greater. We would then have had to close down entire segments to get rid of the virus.”

Norovirus is a highly contageous illness that spread both through the air and by physical contact. Cases on cruises ships are common, including an outbreak infecting many of the 580 people on a Portuguese ship that docked in Longyearbyen last year, resulting in significant restrictions on who was allowed to disembark.

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Mark Sabbatini

I'm a professional transient living on a tiny Norwegian island next door to the North Pole, where once a week (or thereabouts) I pollute our extreme and pristine environment with paper fishwrappers decorated with seemingly random letters that would cause a thousand monkeys with a thousand typewriters to die of humiliation. Such is the wisdom one acquires after more than 25 years in the world's second-least-respected occupation, much of it roaming the seven continents in search of jazz, unrecognizable street food and escorts I f****d with by insisting they give me the platonic tours of their cities promised in their ads. But it turns out this tiny group of islands known as Svalbard is my True Love and, generous contributions from you willing, I'll keep littering until they dig my body out when my climate-change-deformed apartment collapses or they exile my penniless ass because I'm not even worthy of washing your dirty dishes.
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