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."