01/08/2013 06:05 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST

B.C. Norovirus Outbreak Not Slowing Down

VANCOUVER - Outbreaks of the norovirus have people around B.C. retching, and there's no sign that the spread of the nasty virus will slow down this winter.

Health officials say people are getting sick because they don't have any immunity to the new strain of the gastrointestinal virus that's temporarily closed hospital wards.

Fraser Health Authority spokeswoman Tasleem Juma said Tuesday that enhanced cleaning protocols are being used in health-care facilities where the virus has struck and that officials expect it to continue making the rounds across the province.

Juma said the Sydney strain of the virus isn't any worse than strains from previous years in terms of symptoms such as vomiting and stomach pain, which persist for up to 48 hours.

Officials say frequent hand washing is the best defence against the virus, and that the flu vaccine won't prevent it.

Lisa Thibault's five-year-old daughter was among several people at a New Year's Eve party who became ill and spent the next day vomiting before passing the virus on to her.

"She vomited all night, from about 3 o'clock in the morning to noon the next day, until she pretty well emptied her stomach."

The next day it was Thibault's turn to vomit and clutch her upset stomach.

"What I tell people is make sure you take time off work, don't go in when you're sick, don't spread it around any more than it has to be spread and if you've got kids in daycare take them home."

Thibault said the party hostess sent out a notice on Facebook to everyone who attended the festivities, saying she, her children and several others had become ill with what appeared to be norovirus, not food poisoning.

"She sent us all a link to Health Canada's website where it talks about norovirus. She was very responsible and said it's probably not anything you have to go to the hospital about, ride it out and it takes about 48 hours to get out of your system."