Illinois Norovirus Outbreak Grows

A <"">norovirus that we have been following and that has been reported at three Illinois nursing homes is spreading. Some good news, the names of the three involved facilities has finally been released. According to the Northwest Herald, the number of ill increased to 138—we reported 129 yesterday—citing data from the McHenry County Department of Health.

The names of the facilities—The Fountains at Crystal Lake, in Crystal Lake; Hearthstone Manor, in Woodstock; and Mercy Harvard Care Center Nursing Home, in Harvard—were obtained by the Northwest Herald via a Freedom of Information request.

Debra Quackenbush, a spokeswoman for the health department, said the new cases involve employees at two facilities; no patients have been involved in the recent outbreaks, said the Northwest Herald. At last report, six nursing home residents required hospitalization said the Chicago Tribune recently.

Quakenbush noted that, although rare, norovirus can be fatal in those with a compromised immune system, said the Northwest Herald. As of yesterday, Quackenbush refused to release the names of the three involved facilities.

Norovirus outbreaks occur frequently in closed populations, such as in nursing homes. Norovirus outbreaks are believed to result mainly from contamination of food by infected workers who don’t properly wash their hands after using the toilet.

Norovirus, which can survive for weeks on surfaces at room temperature, can not only be difficult to eliminate, norovirus can only be killed with chorine bleach. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers and other preparations are not too effective.

A group of viruses that cause gastroenteritis, norovirus are not helped with antibiotics. People become infected by eating contaminated food or drinking liquids; touching contaminated surfaces or objects, and then placing their hand in their mouth; and having direct contact with an infected person.

Once infected, people may feel very sick and vomit many times a day. Sometimes people are unable to drink enough liquids to replenish the liquids lost due to vomiting and diarrhea and can become dehydrated and require special medical attention.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), symptoms also include “diarrhea, and some stomach cramping. Sometimes people also have a low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and a general sense of tiredness. The illness often begins suddenly, and the infected person may feel very sick. In most people the illness is self-limiting, with symptoms” lasting just one or days. Diarrhea tends to afflict children and vomiting is typically found in adults. Symptoms can present anywhere from 12 hours to a couple of days.

Extremely contagious—especially via stool and vomit being—norovirus are very infectious, said the CDC. People are generally considered to be contagious from when they feel ill to about three days after their symptoms subside; however, the virus can still be active in their vomit or stool for two weeks or more.

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