ourWindsor.ca: Incidents of norovirus on par with previous years

Windsor Essex County Health Unit

Jonathon LiedtkeourWindsor.ca – Feb. 26, 2013


There have been fifteen outbreaks of the gastrointestinal illness norovirus in the city so far this winter, putting the number of outbreaks in Windsor on par with years past.

From September 1 through December 31 of 2012 there were nine outbreaks of norovirus, and so far in 2013 there have been six. This brings the total number of known occurrences to fifteen. In 2011-12 the city saw fifteen outbreaks of norovirus, and the year prior, 2010-2011, saw thirteen outbreaks.

“You can easily infer from that that this is not a banner year, it’s not an outlier one way or another.” stated Dr. Gary Kirk, the Associate Medical Officer of Health (Acting) and CEO of the Windsor Essex County Health Unit.

Norovirus is a type of virus which can cause gastrointestinal illness in people of all ages, and while the winter time is common for both respiratory illnesses and influenza to spread, it is also the time of year for gastrointestinal illnesses to increase as people congregate indoors to stay warm.

“It is commonly seen at this time of the year, both in institutional and non-institutional settings,” stated Dr. Kirk. “It happens to be the virus that you read about that causes the problems on ocean liners and other large institutions where people are confined for a period of time.”

While norovirus can cause significant illness, Dr. Kirk explained that he’s “no more worried about it than I would other respiratory and [gastrointestinal] illnesses at this time of the year”.

A new strain of norovirus has been identified in the United States which has been dubbed ‘Sydney’ – doctors believe it comes from Australia – and while the Health Unit doesn’t do typing at that level to determine the specific strain of virus, Dr. Kirk wouldn’t be surprised to learn if the new Sydney strain has made its way to Windsor.

“I can’t say for certain whether we have Sydney circulating. I wouldn’t be surprised if we had since there’s a good transfer of people across our border that happens on a daily basis.” said Dr. Kirk who went on to add that just because a new strain exists doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a more severe strain than previous ones.

Norovirus typically lasts anywhere from 12 to 60 hours and is often accompanied with vomiting, abdominal distress, and diarrhea.

The best ways to reduce the spread of norovirus and to protect yourself from infection are to wash your hands and disinfect surfaces which may be contaminated.


Jon Liedtke

Incidents of norovirus on par with previous years (ourwindsor.ca)


Jonathon Liedtke is the Features & Opinion Editor for the University of Windsor Lance Campus/Community Newspaper and a reporter for ourWindsor.ca. As a founding member and current Co-Chair of the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Committee, he is committed to representing, connecting, engaging with and advocating for local youth. He is also a member of Windsor’s “Punk with Horns” band The Nefidovs, and as such, is committed to enhancing and sustaining the arts community.