Virus hits nursing homes

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 20, 2005

An outbreak of the highly contagious norovirus disease-more commonly known as the winter vomiting disease- among the elderly has prompted several area nursing homes to take preventative measures.

&uot;A lot of local nursing homes are having difficulties with the norovirus right now,&uot; said Nancy Cisco, nursing supervisor for the Western Tidewater Health Department. &uot;It’s very contagious at this time of year.&uot;

Several area nursing homes are taking a proactive approach to prevent the spread of the illness by restricting visitors and new admissions to their facilities, she said.

Email newsletter signup

&uot;Some have posted notices on the door to let the public know what is going on,&uot; Cisco said.

&uot;People generally seem to understand.&uot;

Several of the facilities have contacted health department officials, Cisco said. However, she did not know how many nursing home residents have contracted the virus or how many homes have implemented restrictions.

Representatives from Autumn Care and Tandem nursing homes in Windsor would not comment Friday. A spokesman for Nansemond Pointe Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center said none of its residents are suffering from the illness now.

Norovirus disease usually isn’t too serious and generally lasts for a couple of days, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

Symptoms typically include nausea, vomiting, stomach cramping and related gastrointestinal problems. Department literature notes that extra precautions should be taken with the elderly, very young and those with weakened immune systems to prevent dehydration.

On Feb. 13,

the state health department issued guidelines for nursing homes with norovirus outbreaks, which include:

nIsolating ill residents in their rooms for three days after the show of their last symptoms;

Keeping staff with the illness out of work for three days after their last symptoms;

nDiscontinuing visitation until the outbreak is over.