An 85-year-old woman died following a norovirus outbreak in a nursing home. The woman’s death comes shortly after the deaths of 10 other nursing home residents related to gastroenteritis outbreaks.
The norovirus outbreak in an Australian nursing homes demonstrates the susceptibility of the elderly to food born illness. There is no cure for people afflicted with norovirus. Rather, the symptoms need to be managed by increasing fluids, increasing electrolytes, monitoring for dehydration and careful observation to prevent overall weakness.
Norovirus outbreaks are common in amongst people in closed or crowded quarters such as nursing homes or hospitals as the virus is very contagious. Diarrhea, abdominal pain, and vomiting are the most common symptoms associated with norovirus. Most symptoms develop 24 to 48 hours after exposure to the contaminated food.
Norovirus and other food related illnesses are preventable. Simple steps can eliminate the risk to nursing home residents contracting a food related illness or food poisoning:
- Use correct handling of food
- Strict hand washing after bathroom use
- Give kitchen workers paid sick leave
- Liberal use of disinfectants
- Discard food that has been left unrefrigerated for long periods of time
- Discard food that is past its expiration date
- Keep residents infected with disease separate from the general population
Learn more about Norovirus here.
Below are other types of food related illnesses that have occurred in nursing homes throughout the country: