Norovirus Suspected at Two Florida Retirement Facilities

A <"">Norovirus outbreak is ongoing at two retirement facilities in Florida. The Alachua County Health Department announced that residents at the Atrium and Oak Hammock facilities have recently been affected by the outbreak, said the Gainesville Sun.

Of the Atrium’s 204 residents, 26 have been diagnosed with Noroviurs; eight of 52 staff have also been confirmed with suffering from the virus, said the Gainesville Sun. Visitors are being discouraged and ill patients are encouraged to remain in their rooms, added the Gainesville Sun. Of 85 residents at Oak Hammock who live in three residential group facilities, 43 have been reported as ill, as have 17 of the facility’s 70 staff, said the Gainesville Sun, which added that laboratory testing is in progress.
Anthony Dennis, the health department’s director of environmental health, said that the most recent case of suspected Norovirus was reported Friday at the Atrium and Oak Hammock saw its peak on Wednesday, according to the Gainesville Sun.

Norovirus, a group of viruses that cause gastroenteritis are not helped with antibiotics. People become infected by eating food or drinking liquids contaminated with Norovirus; touching surfaces or objects contaminated with Norovirus, and then placing their hand in their mouth; and having direct contact with another person who is infected and showing symptoms. 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.

Norovirus, which can survive for weeks on surfaces at room temperature, can be difficult to eliminate, and can only be killed with chorine bleach. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers and other preparations are not too helpful. Norovirus outbreaks occur frequently in closed populations.

We recently wrote that, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most food poisoning outbreaks are not only preventable, but could be minimized with better analysis and reporting, said WebMD Health News. Yet outbreaks of food-borne illnesses continue to sicken millions and kill thousands of Americans every year. According to the CDC, Norovirus was one of the leading causes of food borne disease outbreaks in 2006, the most current year in which statistics are available. WebMD noted that improved oversight and review could help isolate causes.

In 2006, there were 1,270 reported food-borne disease outbreaks, leading to 27,634 illnesses and 11 deaths; of these, 624 had a confirmed cause and 54 percent were Norovirus, reported WebMD, citing the CDC. Because most cases of illness, death, and hospitalizations go unreported, the CDC believes about 76 million Americans, with 300,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths occur annually.

We wrote last year that, while long suspected, the CDC announced that most food-borne illnesses that sicken millions and kill thousands of Americans yearly are not only preventable, but could be minimized with better analysis and reporting, said WebMD Health News. Most are not reported or not recognized.

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