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Norovirus Outbreak Over at Redwoods, Facility Braced for Flu

Marin County Public Health gave the center the green light to continue as normal - with a few changes to dining procedures and cleaning - and held a flu clinic there today.

The Redwoods residential care facility has been given a clean bill of health following a norovirus outbreak that sickened 78 people, led to the hospitalization of six, and may have contributed to the deaths of two elderly residents.

Marin County Public Health Officer Matt Willis said the facility has been symptom-free for 48 hours, and precautions — which included restricting visitors and canceling group activities — have been lifted. The health department also visited The Redwoods today to administer flu vaccines to anyone who hasn’t received one yet.

“They’ve been given the green light and are back to business as usual,” Willis said. “With a couple exceptions.”

The Redwoods has implemented a new dining policy where staff wearing hats and gloves now serve all meals, as opposed to the previous buffet-style method where residents served themselves using their own utensils. In the weeks after the Dec. 24 outbreak, part of the quarantine required no group gatherings, so staff hand-delivered a total of about 8,000 meals meals to residents’ rooms, said Chief Executive Officer Barbara Solomon. She was traveling for three weeks during the outbreak and recently returned.

“Our staff was remarkable,” Solomon said. “It was great for me to come back and see how beautifully they kept things moving.”

The facility also had been using an approved non-bleach cleaning product, and switched to a cleaner containing bleach to more effectively eliminate surface germs.

“We’ve worked with the health department to come up with guidelines to make sure we’re doing everything correctly,” Solomon said.

The Redwoods has 300-325 residents in different levels of care, and hosts about 10-15 activities per day, from exercise classes to music programs, and everything in between. Solomon said they’re going to do a “soft start” to bringing back group activities starting on Monday, and will probably have a few events planned around Martin Luther King Jr. Day and showing the Presidential Inauguration

The norovirus is highly contagious and symptoms include dehydration, vomiting and diarrhea. There’s no vaccine or specific treatment, so prevention is key, Willis has said. The Redwoods community is continuing to follow protocols, especially frequent hand washing, and is encouraging all residents and staff to get their flu vaccine at today’s clinic, Solomon said. The facility has already had two clinics, and this will be their third. 

The flu is also officially upon us.

In the first week of 2013, Marin recorded 19.8 percent positive influenza tests, crossing the 10 percent threshold that indicates that “it is actively circulating in our community, Willis said earlier this week. The county recorded 6 percent positive tesst for the final week of 2012.

The flu season typically lasts for 12-14 weeks. Although there’s no vaccine supply shortage overall, some clinics have run out and are ordering more, he said. Find a flu clinic on at marinflu.org.

“This is the very beginning of our influenza season, so this is a very good time to get vaccinated,” he said. “Anyone that gets it now will be protected for the vast majority of the season.”

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Rico January 19, 2013 at 02:25 AM
I noticed that the vaccine sales campaign started very early this year, back in September, a bit unusual but makes sense since vaccine sales figures were down very low last year and the year before. Most of the people that view this site also watch TV, a very powerful marketing tool for all corporations. And most people see all the advertising form pharmaceutical corporations for a host of drugs like Lunesta (5$ per pill), Viagra, Vigoro, Cealis, anti depressants and on and on. Half of the air time is spent on explaining all the nasty side affects of these drugs in their ads. All these ads that we have to indure feed hundreds of millions of dollars to the mainstream media each week, so in return, these media outlets have to run front page articles disguised as news about fake pandemics to stimulate vaccine sales. The 2 deaths at the Redwoods were not caused by the Norovirus or the flu, and the way these news advertisements are written, they never acknowlege that. Keep in mind that the vaccine industry is a multi-billion dollar per year business. Even if they "overmanufacture" 80 million doses of the H1N1 vaccine and have to toss those unsold doses, the big pharmaceutical manufacturers still make big money. They just write it off and also have the consumers of pharmaceutical drugs pay more for their addictions by raising the prices. That is why I don't use pharmaceutical drugs or vaccines, the whole system is corrupt, including the private medical insurance system.
Bill McGee January 20, 2013 at 06:37 AM
Ricardo - once again you are posting questionable facts and figures in your attempt to make a point. You wrote "vaccine sales figures were down very low last year and the year before". I did some quick research to verify your data but you are not even close to being accurate. The statistics on the number of vaccines sold are not that even that relative to the discussion about the merit of vaccines so I find your choice to float this idea to be rather odd. According to the CDC, last year (2011-2 flu season) there were 132.1 million vaccines distributed in the U.S. by all makers which happens to be slightly more than this year (flu season) to date. The year prior (2010-11 flu season) there were 163 million vaccines distributed in the U.S. which appears be an all-time high. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/vaccination/vaccinesupply.htm Whenever I dispute your data you have declined to offer a citation or a link to the source where you found the questionable information. This is certainly your prerogative but your credibility continues to suffer as a result.
Bill McGee January 20, 2013 at 06:38 AM
Ricardo is entitled to his opinion and views and it does not bother me if he chooses to not get vaccinated. I do care that he is spreading false information because some people will actually believe unsubstantiated information posted in online forums. Fortunately I believe the majority of folks tend to look a little further in order to get accurate data when it comes to making personal choices that may affect their health or the health of others. Go 49ers.

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