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Norovirus Sickens North Side Nursing Home Residents

Nursing homes and care facilities are supposed to be safe for residents. When our elderly parents or relatives live in a nursing home we expect that they will be protected from harm. Instead, some nursing home residents became ill while living at The Breakers on Chicago’s north side. Residents started reporting illness and the problem quickly spread, causing the Chicago Department of Public Health to become involved. They determined that the illnesses were caused by norovirus, which is highly contagious and can be very serious.

Norovirus is a gastrointestinal infection that is characterized by the sudden onset of vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. The infection is spread through contaminated food or drink and the symptoms typically show up about one to two days after exposure. The virus can be extremely serious in the elderly because they may have weakened immune systems. Norovirus has been reported on some cruise ships, sickening passengers while on vacation. In this case, many residents reported being sick and several required hospitalization. The facility is home to more than 500 residents, who were confined to their apartments while the outbreak was being resolved.

Treatment of Norovirus
Norovirus, like many similar viruses, must run its course. The body needs to flush the infection out and this can take several or more days. Sometimes complications can occur, especially with the elderly. These may include severe dehydration and malnutrition and can even lead to death. It is necessary in some extreme cases to provide fluids and nutrition intravenously. The patient must be cared for in a hospital where the condition can be continuously monitored. The prevention of dehydration is essential when caring for a patient with norovirus.

Prevention of Norovirus
Norovirus is spread very easily so prevention is important. Fortunately, the prevention of norovirus is not difficult. Norovirus starts with the spread of germs from fecal matter, which is then introduced into food or drink. Proper cleanliness is essential in the prevention of the virus. Care must be taken when working with food or beverages. Food handlers must wash their hands after using the bathroom and the use of hand sanitizer may be helpful in eliminating germs. Norovirus spreads easily and once it begins it can be difficult to stop. In this case, the management had to suspend dining hall meals while the entire building was cleaned and sanitized.

Nursing Home Neglect
When a virus such as the Norovirus is found in a nursing home the result can be extremely harmful to residents. In fact, it can amount to nursing home neglect because the situation should have been avoided. The infection was caused by the careless actions of the staff. It is never acceptable for a facility such as this one to cause an outbreak of illness, particularly when it causes serious injury to people. If your loved one suffered serious harm because of neglect in a nursing home, contact the experienced legal team at Levin & Perconti for a consultation.

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