Norovirus: New Danger for Nursing Homes and HospitalsIn recent months, there has been a nationwide outbreak of what is called a Norovirus. The symptoms usually include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and some stomach cramping. Sometimes people additionally have a low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and a general sense of tiredness. Outbreaks have been occurring in hotels, on cruise ships, and especially in nursing homes.
DERRY, N.H. The virus that has been making its rounds in New Hampshire has sickened 67 people at Derry's Pleasant Valley Nursing Center.
LANSING, MI: A local nursing home is quarantined following an outbreak of the Norovirus. 6 News learned that seven patients in Tendercare South have active cases of the Norovirus.
MORAGA, CA - Another assisted living facility is coping with an outbreak of a gastrointestinal Norovirus bug, bringing to 15 the number of such outbreaks since Dec. 8. No deaths have been reported, but some patients have been hospitalized and the virus has been reported in west and central Contra Costa, including in the San Ramon Valley. The county had 23 outbreaks as of Dec. 27, which is typical, according to county public health nurse Susan Farley.
WHEELING, W. Va. -- Just one week after visitation restrictions were lifted at two Wheeling nursing homes, the Good Shepherd nursing home has been cordoned off after a suspected norovirus outbreak.
Officials said nine residents fell ill Sunday. Workers immediately contacted the Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department, restricted visitors throughout the entire building, and cleaned the facility with bleach.
According to the report released by the Center for Disease Control, this is not a particularly dangerous virus to get. As of yet there have been no fatalities, as it is a self-limiting condition that only lasts for a day or two. Granted, the victim feels absolutely miserable during those two days, but the illness gradually fades.
But what we noticed in the report is that there is a problem with dehydration, particularly with the elderly and with young children. That makes the fact that the virus seems to find nursing homes and hospitals as a particularly fertile breeding ground very troubling.
Nursing homes and hospitals are, by their very definition, filled with people who are in a frail state. An illness that a healthy younger adult could shake off could prove fatal to an elderly victim.
This virus is both very resilient and is spread very easily. It is capable of surviving freezing temperatures, and can withstand heat of up to 60 degrees Celsius. And according to the report, the easiest way to prevent the spreading of the virus is by being consistent and thorough about washing your hands. The CDC recommends washing your hands after every trip to the bathroom, and before you handle food.
With this new virus making the rounds of cruise ships, hotels, hospitals and nursing homes, we would hope that those employed by these places are now taking the appropriate steps to limit the exposure of their guests and patients. This time, the bug is a relatively harmless imitation of mild influenza. We might not be so lucky next time.