News

Norovirus outbreak hits Lytton Gardens

Illness sickens 10 residents, two staffers at senior-living facility

A gastrointestinal norovirus outbreak that began early in January closed some sections of Lytton Gardens, the senior-living center in downtown Palo Alto, Amy Cornell, Santa Clara County Department of Public Health information officer, said Monday (Jan. 30).

Lytton Gardens, which operates independent, assisted and skilled-nursing facilities for more than 580 residents, reported the outbreak of gastrointestinal symptoms to health officials in early January, Cornell said.

The illness, which is believed to be norovirus, sickened 10 residents and two staff members between Jan. 5 and 18, she said.

Lytton officials closed its skilled nursing facility to outside visitors and to new admissions into the facility, Cornell said. Internally, they did not move residents between units and employees stayed in the specific unit where they were assigned during the duration of the outbreak. County officials now consider the outbreak to be over, she added.

Lytton had a similar outbreak in 2009 that prompted closures. Norovirus is a highly contagious disease that can hit the elderly particularly hard and can cause fatalities, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Since October 2011, Lytton has instituted an aggressive prevention and education plan in the event of a flu or virus outbreak, according to the facility's website. The entire staff was required to attend a training regarding safety precautions and strategies for preventing transmission of flu virus.

Lytton also has a specific policy and procedures that immediately go into effect if an outbreak occurs. The center has backup staffing available if too many staff members become ill, according to the website.

A spokesperson for Lytton did not return a call for comment.

Cornell said, "Norovirus is very common during this season and people should remember to be diligent in washing their hands to prevent spreading the illness."

Comments

Posted by Wondering?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 30, 2012 at 11:00 am

> Lytton also has a specific policy and procedures that immediately
> go into effect if an outbreak occurs. The center has backup
> staffing available if too many staff members become ill,
> according to the website.

On face value, it sounds like the management understands the issues and has instituted the appropriate planning to deal with this particular outbreak. What's missing is information about how well this planning works. For instance, how long did it take to recognize the first case of Norovirus this time, and how quickly were all of the aspects of the plan put into place?

It would also be interesting to find out how many other senior housing in Palo Alto have similar plans, and training, in place.


Posted by how transmitted?, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jan 30, 2012 at 11:23 am

Is this virus transmitted by contract or through the air or through the food service?


Posted by Norovirus Transmission, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jan 30, 2012 at 12:37 pm

The CDC lists the following modes of transmission: Web Link
* Eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated with norovirus (someone gets stool or vomit on their hands, then touches food or drink).
* Touching surfaces or objects contaminated with norovirus and then putting your hand or fingers in your mouth.
* Having direct contact with a person who is infected with norovirus (for example, when caring for someone with norovirus or sharing foods or eating utensils with them).



Posted by Wondering?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 30, 2012 at 1:05 pm

Thanks for posting the link to Norovirus details of transmission.

Begs the question, was Lytton Gardens quarantined in the sense no one could visit, or were the residents also restricted in their travel outside the building?

Would be interesting to have a follow-up article on how/when public health officials are involved with community housing contagions? Are they called for every case of flu, or just the more contagious illnesses?


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