The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is reporting an outbreak of gastrointestinal illness (GI) among residents and staff at the Illinois Veterans’ Home in Quincy (IVHQ). Based on the symptoms, the spread, and the duration of illness, norovirus is suspected, although tests are pending to confirm.
Beginning earlier this week, 24 individuals experienced vomiting and diarrhea for a couple days. At present, the cases are located in one building on the IVHQ campus. There have been no serious illnesses and individuals are recovering.
IDPH has sent staff to IVHQ to inspect the kitchen and gather data on sick individuals and their exposures. IDPH has also provided guidance to IVHQ on addressing the illnesses.
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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, norovirus is the leading cause of illness and outbreaks from contaminated food in the United States. Each year there are approximately 19-21 million cases of norovirus. Most people with norovirus get better within one to three days. Health care facilities, including nursing homes and hospitals, are the most commonly reported settings for norovirus cases in the United States. Norovirus can also occur in closed places like daycare centers, nursing homes, schools, and cruise ships.
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There is no specific medicine to treat people with norovirus illness. Norovirus infection cannot be treated with antibiotics because it is a viral (not a bacterial) infection. People with norovirus should drink plenty of liquids to help prevent dehydration.