The 80-bed Trinity Center Medical Center Nursing Home at 6400 Trinity Drive is quarantined because of a norovirus outbreak, the Arkansas Department of Health confirmed late Tuesday.
According to information from the federal Centers for Disease Control, the highly contagious norovirus is the world’s most common cause of gastroenteritis. Norovirus typically leads to acute vomiting, nausea and watery, non-bloody diarrhea with abdominal cramps within 12 to 48 hours after a person is exposed. Especially with young children, older adults and people with compromised immune systems, norovirus illness can lead to severe dehydration, hospitalization and — in rare instances — death.
Although an unspecified number but “large proportion” of Trinity Village’s patients and staff have experienced gastroenteritis symptoms, no deaths have been attributed to the virus, epidemiologist and ADH Communicable Diseases Medical Director Dr. Dirk Haselow said Wednesday.
Also on Wednesday, Trinity Village Inc. Executive Director Donna S. Stone said in a press release that the facility — constructed in 1983 — ordered a quarantine early Sunday, Jan. 26, after staff members “identified a pattern of stomach virus symptoms.”
As mandated, Trinity Village officials notified ADH’s Jefferson County Unit and began working with a team of ADH responders in taking measures to curb the virus’ spread. The illness is primarily distributed through food contamination. Infected parties are secondary carriers. Haselow said that, in the case of stricken nursing homes, infected staff or visitors can carry the virus to outside settings, but he stressed that there is “no real risk” posed to the general public.
“Visitors may want to delay (Trinity Village) visits until the outbreak is over,” Haselow said.
Trinity’s doors have been tagged with “do not enter” signs. Haselow said a minimum quarantine period is four days, but the time is extended if contamination is ongoing.
“The quarantine has a rolling end date,” he said.
“This is typically a self-limited illness,” Haselow said. “It’s better without a specific treatment time being imposed.”
Ongoing vigilance is required to abate the virus, Haselow said, adding that there is no specific treatment for the illness. The ADH response team is chiefly composed of food safety, environmental and communicable disease professionals, Haselow said.
The group, Haselow said, has focused on the Trinity Village facility, primarily its kitchen.
“I understand there are no deficiencies (in the inspectors’ findings),” he said. “It appears that they’re doing everything right.”
Haselow said the best means of avoiding the disorder is frequent hand-washing, along with negating close contact with norovirus patients.
In her prepared text, Stone said Trinity Village’s patients’ families are being regularly updated on their loved ones’ conditions.
“All staff providing care to our residents are going above and beyond the call of duty to ensure residents receive appropriate care,” she wrote, adding that ADH policy is that such quarantines cannot be lifted until 72 hours after symptoms have subsided.
Asked if she might project an end to the quarantine, Stone shook her head “no.”
ADH Public Information Officer Kerry Krell said norovirus occurrences are fairly frequent in close-quarter facilities such as nursing homes. She said the disorder has also happened a number of times on cruise ships.
“It can happen in any type of common environment,”she said.
Stone confirmed that Trinity Village experienced a norovirus quarantine last year, but declined to discuss any previous quarantines. Krell said ADH records on such matters date back only a year.
Krell said there currently are no other norovirus quarantines in the area.