Stomach virus cases at Carroll hospital waning, say officials

No new patients admitted

others, staff on the mend

February 18, 2004|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Carroll Hospital Center had no new cases yesterday of an infectious stomach virus that sent 10 people to the hospital and sickened a dozen of the staff over the holiday weekend.

"By late Sunday evening, things seemed really bad," said Brenda Kitchen, infection control coordinator at the Westminster hospital. "We had a lot of staff calling in sick and 10 patients with symptoms."

In addition to dealing with an "unusual number of patients at the same period of time and on the same unit," the hospital also had 12 employees out sick Monday, Kitchen said. The staff affected by the gastrointestinal virus seemed to be those who worked in the 24-bed progressive care unit of the hospital.

The number of staff absentees was down to six yesterday, but three of those were new cases, Kitchen said. By late yesterday, six of the 10 patients had improved and most of them had been discharged, she said.

"We seemed to have peaked over the weekend, but we are coming out of it now," she said.

The virus' symptoms start with nausea, which leads to severe vomiting and diarrhea. Most of the patients admitted Monday with the virus were elderly.

"It is not life-threatening, but certainly uncomfortable for the patient," Kitchen said. "But everyone seems to be recuperating."

The four patients still experiencing gastrointestinal problems yesterday remained hospitalized and were isolated from other patients, she said. The staff is wearing masks, gowns and gloves while treating them; their visitors also must don protective gear.

The hospital will continue to take measures to prevent transmission of the virus for at least 24 hours after the last patient's symptoms disappear, Kitchen said.

"We will be keeping precautions in place for several days," she said.

A similar viral illness that spread to dozens of workers at Good Samaritan Hospital during the past three weeks also appears to have peaked, a hospital official there said Monday. A few additional employees called in sick Monday with gastrointestinal symptoms, far fewer than the several dozen who had reported the illness in recent weeks, the official said.

An emergency notification system had alerted hospitals across the state about the outbreak at Good Samaritan. Carroll Hospital Center saw two patients with the virus in its emergency room Saturday.

"We had been alerted about Good Sam, so we knew something was going on with us when our patient numbers started to increase," said Kitchen. "Ten would definitely be a lot for us."

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