Over 60 Mill Valley residents sickened by norovirus

January 4, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
A norovirus sickened 63 staff and residents of The Redwoods residential care facility in Mill Valley since Dec. 24, the Marin County Division of Public Health said.

Two residents over 85 years old with "multiple medical conditions" were taken to Marin General Hospital where they died, supervising public health nurse Linda Ferguson said. Four other people were hospitalized, public health officials said.

The highly contagious virus that results in dehydration from vomiting and diarrhea did not cause the deaths but can contribute to them, Ferguson said.

The greatest risk of death from the virus is to the very young and very old, Ferguson said.

There have been three different outbreaks of norovirus in the last two months, the largest one at The Redwoods, public health officials said.

"This particular outbreak is now decreasing, and it is not unusual given the size of the facility," Marin County Public Health Officer Matt Willis said.

The Redwoods restricted visitors and gave gloves and masks to those who did visit, Ferguson said.

Group meals and activities were cancelled and equipment was disinfected between use, Ferguson said. Staff at The Redwoods were assigned separately to those who were ill and those were not, Ferguson said.

Ferguson said her visit to The Redwoods today confirmed the virus is in its end stage. An outbreak typically spikes a day or two after it first occurs, then decreases, Ferguson said. The virus usually lasts one or two days in those who are affected.

There is no vaccine, and prevention, especially by hand washing, is the key to limiting its spread because the virus lives a long time on surfaces, Ferguson said.

The Redwoods has 300-325 residents in different levels of care. Some live independently in apartments and some in one of two levels of assisted living housing, she said.


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