Norovirus May Have Lead to Resident Death
An investigation is underway on what has recently caused 4 deaths within a state vet’s home in Minneapolis after norovirus is suspected in resident’s death.
Earlier in March, four residents of a state veteran’s home in Minneapolis died from a possible outbreak of a virus. Norovirus is a foodborne illness that can be very dangerous to the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.
The home stopped taking new admissions, according to the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs. In addition to the four residents that passed away, over a dozen employees called in sick. It can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and cramps. It is an illness that results in 70,000 hospitalizations each year and 800 of those die. Children and the elderly are among those that are more susceptible to the most serious aspects of the illness.
The facility, one of the largest of its kind in the state, has been subject to repeated federal and state investigations because there have been four other suspicious deaths within the facility, including one from a medication error.
The suspected norovirus outbreak began on March 7, but the cause of the four deaths is being investigated because all four residents had other health problems. There has been one hospitalization confirmed to be the result of norovirus.
According to CDC, it is a very contagious virus. You can get norovirus from an infected person, contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces. The virus causes your stomach or intestines or both to get inflamed (acute gastroenteritis). This leads you to have stomach pain, nausea, and diarrhea and to throw up.
Anyone can be infected with norovirus and get sick. Also, you can have norovirus illness many times in your life. Norovirus illness can be serious, especially for young children and older adults.
It is the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis in the United States. Each year, it causes 19-21 million illnesses and contributes to 56,000-71,000 hospitalizations and 570-800 deaths. Norovirus is also the most common cause of foodborne-disease outbreaks in the United States.
The best way to help prevent norovirus is to practice proper hand washing and general cleanliness
Minnesota Department Health Discusses Norovirus
The Minnesota Department of Health said that the home had reported a suspected virus outbreak involving eight residents living in a 30-person unit. The home then contacted the department to report a second unit had become involved. It had no information on how many employees may have been affected.
The department then sent testing kits and informational materials to the home and remained in daily contact with the home.
The Health Department had no additional information on the deaths, but it was said that that information may not be immediately available until after the tests results have been returned. No quarantines were issued by the Health Department, but visitors were limited and movement between units was limited.
The State Veteran’s Department said that it has temporarily held any new admissions and is monitoring the situation on a daily basis. In these types of cases, residents remain in their units in order to limit exposure. Activities are also limited.
While the Health Department investigates the illnesses, veteran’s officials have said that it is common for hospitals, nursing homes, and care facilities to have norovirus outbreaks because of how the illness is spread and the degree of vulnerability of the residents and patients. This outbreak has not hit the home as hard as it has in past years.
Norovirus is most prevalent during November, December, and January. However, there have been some recent outbreaks recorded throughout Minnesota. In Brooklyn Park, a coffee shop was shut down for approximately a week after an outbreak.
Veteran’s facilities across the country have also been hit hard. In one case, 125 veterans and 25 staff members reported becoming sick with norovirus. Another facility was quarantined in early March due to an outbreak.
Report Suspected Infectious Disease Including Possible Norovirus Resident Deaths
For more information from the Minnesota Department of Health, Office of Health Facility Complaints concerning nursing homes, assisted living and other elder care providers view resolved complaints at the MDH website.
If you have concerns about or any form of elder abuse or neglect contact Minnesota Elder Abuse Attorney Kenneth LaBore toll free at 612-743-9048 or toll free at 1-888-452-6589 or by email at KLaBore@MNnursinghomeneglect.com.