News reports are stating that an investigation is being conducted at the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Gulfport, Mississippi after a gastrointestinal outbreak. Forty-seven of the 514 residents of that facility reported symptoms of nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Nine of the elderly residents had to be hospitalized. There is no official word on the pathogen responsible for this outbreak, but one news report quoted a retired state health department officer as calling it a “cruise ship illness” which is likely norovirus.
Norovirus causes these symptoms, which occur quickly. The virus is extremely contagious and passes through populations such as care facilities and schools. The elderly are more susceptible to serious complications from this type of illness because dehydration occurs easily.
The Mississippi Department of health is testing stool specimens. The Public Health Department of Keesler Air Force Base is testing food samples that were served to residents at that facility. The RetirementHome is also posting fliers reminding residents how important it is to wash their hands after using the bathroom and before eating.
To prevent the spread of norovirus, it’s important to stay home from work or school if you are sick, especially with a diarrheal illness. Always wash your hands with soap and water after caring for someone who is sick, after using the bathroom, changing diapers, or preparing food for others.