Scary news that could result in a spike of Broward County nursing home negligence cases: a gastrointestinal virus is fast becoming a rampant cause of illness in long-term care centers.
Our Broward nursing home negligence attorneys have been closely following research that was just concluded on the sapovirus, which is fast becoming a common source of sickness for elder adults.
According to MSNBC, the sapovirus is a cousin of the norovirus. This is the typically food-born sickness known to cause outbreaks on cruise ships or other areas where people are in close quarters, especially where there may be unsanitary conditions.
Its lightning-quick spread happens through surface or person-to-person contact and through food. It causes extreme diarrhea, stomach pain and vomiting.
Norovirus illnesses infect about 20 million people every year.
The sapovirus, though, was thought to be fairly less common – until now. Scientists in Minnesota and Oregon have just learned that not only are the instances of illness caused by this bug increasing, they are cropping up more and more in long-term care facilities and nursing homes.
The epidemiologists – or those who study infectious diseases – looked at some 2,100 outbreaks of gastrointestinal illnesses. What they found was more than 50 percent stemmed from the norovirus, while another 25 percent or so were the result of bacteria, parasites or some other bug.
However, in another approximately 145 cases that were previously undetermined, almost 25 percent were caused by the sapovirus. The scientists said the results demand additional research to further understand all of the potential consequences.
What we already know about the sapovirus is that it acts similarly to the norovirus, causing vomiting, fever and diarrhea. And, it seems to be spread the same way.
What’s startling is that nearly 70 percent of sapovirus outbreaks happened in nursing homes and senior care centers.
This is a virus that was first discovered on the other side of the globe in Sapporo, Japan. That was back in the late 70s, although at the time, it was believed to be very rare.
That’s changing, though, and it’s important for nursing home staff, residents and family members to know about it. While this virus is going to make the average, healthy adult quite miserable for a spell, it’s not likely to kill you.
But for the elderly, infirm or very young, it can be deadly. That’s because as you grow older, your immune system weakens. That could mean hospitalization at the very least, and death in the worst case scenario.
The good news is that this virus is preventable with proper sanitation measures. What’s concerning, though, is that many nursing homes across the country have been cited in recent years for unsanitary conditions.
Family members need to be vigilant in making sure that nursing homes are following up with at the very least the basic minimum standards of cleanliness – and perhaps going above and beyond.
If you or a loved one have suffered from nursing home abuse in Broward County or the surrounding areas, contact the Law Offices of Freeman, Mallard, Sharp & Gonzalez for legal assistance. 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.
Mystery sapovirus strikes nursing homes, new tests reveal, By JoNel Aleccia, MSNBC