Norovirus suspected in four deaths at VA nursing home

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Four residents of the VA nursing home in Minneapolis died over the weekend following a suspected outbreak of the highly contagious norovirus.

The Star Tribune reports that more than a dozen employees were also reportedly sickened from a possible outbreak of the foodborne illness. As a result, the home has put a temporary hold on any new admissions. Many residents are staying in their units for meals to limit exposure, and the home is limiting group activities.

The Centers for Disease Control explains that "...norovirus is a very contagious virus that can infect anyone. You can get it 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," and goes on to note that it is most prevalent during November, December and January. Norovirus, which causes vomiting, diarrhea and cramps, is particularly dangerous to the sick and elderly. Annually it causes up to 70,000 hospitalizations and 800 deaths.

The Minnesota Health Department told the newspaper that the home reported the suspected outbreak last week. The first report said that eight residents in a 30-person unit were sickened. An additional repor said the illness had spread to a second unit.

CNN reported on cruise ships have been persistently plagued by the illness this winter. Last Friday, a Caribou Coffee in Brooklyn Park closed for the weekend following an apparent outbreak.

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