Retirement Home Responds After Reported Norovirus Outbreak 12/10/13
CBS 7 News
December 10, 2013
ODESSA-A dangerous virus breaks out at an Odessa retirement community. Seven people were taken to the emergency room and at least four remain hospitalized, according to Ector County Officials and Medical Center Hospital.
At least 33 seniors have what can be described as a nasty stomach bug. County health officials say norovirus is extremely contagious, spread by contact.
More than a third of Lincoln Tower's 100 senior citizen residents are now ill with viral gastroenteritis likely caused by norovirus.
"Norovirus is the most common cause of gastroenteritis,” said Ector County Health Department Epidemiologist and Public Health Emergency Preparedness Manager Amanda Robison-Chadwell. “It usually includes vomiting, diarrhea, sometimes just really intense stomach cramps. This is viral as opposed to being caused by a bacteria, so when people talk about food poisoning that’s improperly prepared food, viral means it is something passed from person to person.”
The Ector County Health Department says norovirus is extremely contagious - spread by touch and contact with the virus, which can include contact with unclean surfaces in bathrooms.
"This is strictly contact based via contact with the individual directly or surfaces and items that they have handled and transmitted the contagion to," Robison-Chadwell said.
"Norovirus is typically dangerous for the very young and very old,” Robison-Chadwell said. “Because kids don’t have developed immune systems and the elderly have compromised immune system issues.”
Lincoln Tower's parent company, Holiday Retirement, sent us a statement, saying "Our dining room in the community is closed and we’re providing meals to resident apartments,” said Jamison Gosselin with Holiday Retirement. “Residents living here are being checked on and families of those sick have been called. The Department of Health is being updated often and has confirmed we’re doing all the right things to get past the issue,” Gosselin said in the e-mail.
We did reach out to one resident of the tower, but CBS 7 chose not to go in because of just how contagious this outbreak is, signs posted on the front door warn friends and family.
The county is encouraging visitors to hold off until further notice. They say you are still contagious for three days after symptoms go away.
The CDC offers five tips for preventing norovirus; washing hands thoroughly, washing fruits and vegetables, not preparing food for others when sick, cleaning surfaces with bleach and washing laundry in hot water. You can read more about the virus at this link