Capital Health is asking sick people to stay away from hospitals and nursing homes after an outbreak of norovirus in a Musquodoboit Harbour nursing home.

So far five people have fallen ill at The Birches Nursing Home, with one of the cases confirmed to be norovirus, often known as Norwalk virus.

The virus causes vomiting, diarrhea, nausea and stomach cramping. In some cases it has been known to be fatal but none of the recent cases have been severe.

“It’s something that kind of comes and goes pretty quickly but it’s unpleasant while you have it,” Capital Health spokesman John Gillis said Thursday.

The Birches is closed to visitors, except for compassionate reasons.

Because the virus is out in the community, health officials are urging people who feel ill, or are in close contact with someone who is ill, to stay away from hospitals and nursing homes throughout the region for at least three days after the symptoms end.

Health staff who exhibit symptoms are asked not to come to work.

“Norovirus is highly contagious so we just want to prevent spread proactively as much as possible,” Gillis said.

Capital Health is also urging the public to wash their hands to reduce the spread of infection.

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