A Hepatitis B outbreak at Glen Care of Mount Olive (North Carolina), an assisted living facility, has claimed the lives of four elderly residents. Another younger patient, still remains hospitalized for medical complications related to hepatitis B.
As officials from the department of health look into how these assisted living residents contracted this strain of hepatitis, they are asking officials at the facility to vaccinate other residents to prevent further hepatitis outbreaks.
Hepatitis B is far more contagious than other strains of hepatitis and can survive on surfaces longer than other viruses . While fairly uncommon amongst patients in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, hepatitis can be particularly deadly for elderly people with compromised immune systems.
Symptoms of hepatitis include:
- Extreme fatigue
- Loss of appetite
- Dark urine
- Yellowish skin
Hepatitis B is generally thought to be transmitted via sexual contact or dirty medical equipment. Dirty conditions in medical facilities is believed to contribute to the more than 12,000 cases of Hepatitis B contracted on an annual basis by health care workers.
Once infected with Hepatitis B, there are four FDA approved medications that can be used for treatment. The approved medications include:
- Alfa Interferon
- Adefovir dipivoxil
As officials from the North Carolina Department of Health continue to seek the source of this Hepatitis B outbreak at an assisted living facility, my guess is that the investigation will ultimate demonstrate that sanitation problems at the facility caused or certainly contributed to this outbreak.
For laws related to North Carolina nursing homes, look here.
State investigating hepatitis deaths at assisted living center WRAL.com, October 19, 2010