Recent Outbreaks Of Norovirus Reported In Utah Care Facilities

May 27, 2021, 7:38 PM | Updated: 9:50 pm

PROVO, Utah – Health departments in Utah and Salt Lake counties confirmed recent outbreaks of norovirus or a similar gastrointestinal illness in several long-term care facilities.

“We had some long-term care facilities that had large numbers,” said Jennifer Hatfield, an epidemiology investigator and nurse with the Utah County Health Department. “That’s the concern because it spreads so easily, it’s highly infectious, when it gets into a congregate setting it spreads fast.”

Hatfield said the Utah County outbreak of norovirus included five care facilities and occurred from late March through April. A total of 288 cases were reported. Four people had to be hospitalized and one person died.

Of those cases, 156 were residents of those facilities and 132 were employees—which raises the likelihood that the illness spread to the general population.

Hatfield said symptoms from norovirus typically only last about 24 hours but that it can be a very rough 24 hours.

“I call it the fast and furious GI illness,” Hatfield said, “and the reason I do is vomiting can come on suddenly no matter where you are and along with diarrhea—and for lack of better words the symptoms are pretty violent.”

In Salt Lake County, the health department reports that since March they’ve had three gastrointestinal illness clusters with norovirus-like symptoms at long-term care facilities. There were a total of 82 cases and two hospitalizations.

“Norovirus is kind of always looming,” said Dede Vilven, an epidemiologist with the Salt Lake County Health Department.

Overall, Vilven said Salt Lake County has seen an uptick in reports of gastrointestinal illnesses over the last month and that handwashing is key to stopping the spread.

Vilven said norovirus can be easily transferred through food and that those who prepare food or serve food should isolate themselves.

“Really pay attention to how you’re feeling,” Vilven said. “If you don’t feel good stay home.”

Norovirus is not a reportable disease, so labs and doctors don’t report cases to local health departments. Even so, Vilven encourages residents to report their symptoms through the state’s “I Got Sick” online reporting tool.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, food and water can get contaminated with norovirus if an infected person has feces or vomit particles on them and touches the food or if the food is placed on a surface that has feces or vomit particles on it.

“Norovirus can easily contaminate food and water because it only takes a very small amount of virus particles to make you sick,” said the CDC’s website.

Also, the CDC said that drops of vomit from an infected person can travel in the air and land on food or surfaces.

Those who do become sick with vomiting or diarrhea should drink plenty of fluids to help prevent dehydration.

“Watch for signs of dehydration in children who have norovirus illness. Children who are dehydrated may cry with few or no tears and be unusually sleepy or fussy,” according to the CDC’s website. “If you think you or someone you are caring for is severely dehydrated, call your healthcare provider.”

“Because of the circumstances with elderly and infants there is the possibility that it could be fatal for them or hospitalize them,” Hatfield said.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

Cottonwood High lines up for a free kick following a fair catch against Jordan High. (KSL Sports)...
Andrew Adams

Coach, kicker & official reflect on Cottonwood High’s rare, game-winning play

Cottonwood defeated Jordan High after the Colts attempted and converted a free kick for three points with 12 seconds left following a fair catch on a punt.
3 days ago
Karah Brackin

Utah Veterans head to Washington D.C. for ‘trip of a lifetime’

75 veterans left Salt Lake City for Washington D.C. Tuesday morning.
3 days ago
Clark Aposhian, chairman of the Utah Shooting Sports Council, introduces himself as a member of a n...
Ashley Imlay, KSL.com & Aimee Cobabe, KSL NewsRadio

Supreme Court declines to hear Utah gun rights activist’s appeal to overturn bump stock ban

A prominent Utah gun rights activist has lost his bid to convince the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the federal bump stock ban.
3 days ago
Yvette Rodier, shooting survivor...
Amy Donaldson, KSL Podcasts

LETTER PODCAST: Victim says bullet wounds were easiest part of recovery

When Yvette Rodier woke up in a hospital, she knew, even before anyone told her, that her friend, Zachary Snarr, was dead.
3 days ago
Housing construction....
Ladd Egan

Unaffordable Utah: Mortgage rates climb again as buyers look for price reductions

Utah's housing market is whiplashing as last year's buying frenzy seems to have slowed down to signs of a recession.
4 days ago
Matt Gephardt & Sloan Schrage

Get Gephardt: How cybercriminals use social engineering to get us to hand over our sensitive info

You can have the strongest, most secure password in the history of cybersecurity, but the bad guys know there is one weakness they can use to hack into your system - you!
4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Ask these questions before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Cloud storage technology with 3d rendering drawer with files in cloud...
PC Laptops

How backing up your computer can help you relieve stress

Don't wait for something bad to happen before backing up your computer. Learn how to protect your data before disaster strikes.
young woman with stickers on laptop computer...
Les Olson

7 ways print marketing materials can boost your business

Custom print marketing materials are a great way to leave an impression on clients or customers. Read for a few ideas to spread the word about your product or company.
young woman throwing clothes to organize a walk in closet...
Lighting Design

How to organize your walk-in closet | 7 easy tips to streamline your storage today

Read our tips to learn how to organize your walk-in closet for more storage space. These seven easy tips can help you get the most out of your space.
Recent Outbreaks Of Norovirus Reported In Utah Care Facilities