Nursing home gastro outbreaks kill 200
by Gemma Collins
Outbreaks of gastroenteritis are causing a major burden for nursing homes across Australia with 84,000 elderly residents affected and more than 200 deaths in six years, according to a recent Australian study.
The report published in the Clinical Infectious Diseases (51:907) shows that half of all gastro outbreaks were reported in nursing homes, involving 84,769 residents, with 1,577 people hospitalised and 209 killed by the infection from 2002 to 2008.
Norovirus was found to be responsible for 35% of all the 3,257 outbreaks and the study authors from the ANU are calling for more effective infection control measures to manage the fatal outbreaks.
For the study, researchers measured the number of gastroenteritis outbreaks from July 1 2002 to June 30 2008. They found that it affected members of staff in the nursing homes as well as residents, with the infection most commonly spreading from person-to-person rather than being foodborne.
Around 17 per cent of care homes in Australia experience an outbreak of gastroenteritis each year but the study found the infection struck mostly during the winter, with the Australian Capital Territory having the highest number and the Northern Territory having the lowest number of cases.
The study authors from the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health at the ANU said: “The dominant role of norovirus in outbreaks is clear, although clinicians should be alert for serious foodborne outbreaks.
“It is essential that long term care facilities and the public health community work together to identify effective infection control measures to reduce the impact of gastroenteritis outbreaks.”
23 September 2010