By Don Crosby
Outbreaks of Norovirus and respiratory illness have closed Brucelea Haven to the public once again.
Dianne Kiss, the director of care for Brucelea Haven, said the decision to restrict visitors last Thursday was taken in consultation with the Grey Bruce Health Unit.
“Because of the two (outbreaks) and the risk to our staff, residents and keeping it contained. I’m… closing the whole facility,” she said.
Kiss confirmed that Norwalk virus (Norovirus) lasts 24 to 48 hours and can lie dormant from 12-14 days on hard surfaces, which can cause it to spread quite readily. Some of the staff at Brucelea Haven have also suffered from Norovirus, Kiss said during an interview on Thursday.
“For sure they’ve got confirmed Norovirus which is the gastrointestinal, vomiting and diarrhea bug and they also have respiratory symptoms as well. When you have two different illnesses affecting one facility, it puts a lot of strain on the staff as well as the residents. That’s their call if they want to close their facility”, said the health unit’s Karen Sweiger program manager for infectious diseases.
Sweiger confirmed that five other long-term care facilities are experiencing outbreaks of influenza, Norovirus or respiratory illness, but as far as she knew no other long-term care facilities have visitor restrictions in place, but added that decision to restrict visitations is not made by the health unit but by operators of the facilities in consultation with the health unit.
On Dec. 17 a couple of wings in Brucelea Haven were closed to visitors due to an outbreak of gastrointestinal symptoms among some residents. Brucelea Haven has also experienced an outbreak of Influenza A back in November, which closed the facility for awhile.
Kiss told Bruce County councillors on Thursday that she’s now aware of the presence on Influenza B in the community and samples are being taken to determine whether it’s made its way into Brucelea Haven.
Sweiger said the health unit has two laboratory confirmed cases of Influenza B in the community this week.
“All of our influenza cases from October until now have been Influenza A except for the two Influenza B. But with Influenza A and B the person is sick with similar symptoms. The only ways you are going to know the difference is by a lab test done. And you treat them the same way,” she said.
Symptoms of Influenza A or B in general are respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, chills, sore throat, headache, muscle ache and extreme fatigue.
The Norovirus symptoms include, vomiting, diarrhea abdominal cramps.
Sweiger said this year there have been 92 lab confirmed cases of Influenza A in the community, not including those in long term care facilities compared to 42 for the 2011-12 season.
As well there have been nine confirmed cases of Influenza outbreaks in long term care facilities this season compared to very few last year, she said.
Sweiger said there’s still time to benefit from the season flu shot noting that this year’s flu vaccine. contains two strains of Influenza A and a strain of Influenza B.
“We know this year it is a good match for the Influenza A strains anyway,” she said.