The county health department has ordered quarantine measures at two county nursing homes due to a seasonal outbreak of flu-like illnesses.
Deputy County Health Officer Larry Leitch said officials take these steps nearly every year at nursing homes to protect patients from developing flu or pneumonia.
"Nursing homes are dealing with this from December to March, when the flu and colds hit," Mr. Leitch said. "Obviously, many of the residents are frail and much more susceptible to communicable diseases. . . . If someone is up in age and they get the flu, it can kill them."
On Sunday, the Westminster Nursing and Convalescent Center stopped allowing visitors and accepting new admissions to prevent the spread of a gastrointestinal virus and upper respiratory infection.
Patients are confined to their rooms and the nursing home has limited group activities, said Nancy Stocks, nursing home administrator.
Longview Nursing Home in Manchester also was under quarantine measures for two weeks before Christmas because of the same medical conditions among patients there, said Donna Wilhelm, director of nursing.
Mr. Leitch said nursing homes are required to notify the health department when they identify two or three patients displaying flu-like symptoms.
A communicable disease nurse visits the nursing home to determine what steps should be taken to contain the spread of the illness.
The health department generally lifts the ban on visitors to a quarantined nursing home 24 hours after the last patient with the illness is identified, Mr. Leitch said.
Ms. Stocks said about 10 percent of Westminster Nursing Home's 170 patients are ill.
"We don't have many people here with temperatures over 100 degrees," she said. "We're hoping to be able to get back to our regular activities within a few days."
At Longview Nursing Home, about 25 of the facility's 109 patients were ill, Ms. Wilhelm said.
Immediate family members were permitted to visit after being informed of the quarantine.