Norovirus Outbreak at Retirement Community

Officials said 39 people became ill with symptoms of the virus at the Fredericka Manor Retirement Community in Chula Vista

San Diego County health officials are investigating a norovirus outbreak that infected dozens of residents at a Chula Vista retirement community earlier this month.

Health officials said 40 residents and 11 staff members at the Fredericka Manor Retirement Community became ill with symptoms of norovirus. Three were hospitalized, but are recovering.

On Tuesday evening, the county public health laboratory confirmed the cases are indeed norovirus.

The community's executive director, Craig Sumner, said all of the residents' families were notified of the sickness, but Porter Callish, who has lived in the community for several years, said her daughter was not told.

While management was proactive in telling them a stomach bug was going around, Callish told NBC 7 the notifications never actually used the word "norovirus." 

"I would like to know exactly what it is, if they know," said Callish. "This has sort of been in limbo. First (dining) was supposed to be opened on Wednesday, and now we hear Friday, and then here comes Easter."

Easter is a significant time for the residents because many have their families visit if it's too difficult for them to get in and out of cars.

The outbreak was reported to the health department on March 18. At the time it was reported, the retirement community had already started implementing infection control measures like cleaning and isolating patients, according to Sumner.

San Diego public health officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said the public should not be alarmed by this outbreak because it is common in closed spaced such as care facilities, day care center and even cruise ships.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), norovirus is highly contagious and can be spread through an infected person, contaminated food or water or by touching contaminated surfaces.

The virus – which can infect anyone but causes particularly serious illness in young children and older adults – causes the inflammation in the stomach, intestines, or both, and leads to stomach pain and nausea, according to the CDC.

Though highly contagious, Dr. Wooten said the outbreak in Chula Vista is no cause for alarm.

A representative from Fredericka Manor told NBC 7 residents were notified immediately of the outbreak and signs were posted about it around the community.

The CDC said hand washing is an important way to prevent norovirus from spreading, as well as carefully washing fruits and vegetables before eating them.

On Tuesday, Sumner released the following statement to NBC 7:

“On March 18 we reported several cases of possible norovirus, a highly contagious stomach and intestinal virus. At that time we immediately implemented several protocols and extra precautions to prevent the spread of the virus.

The preventative measures included the closure of dining rooms and other group meeting facilities, disinfection of the facility, extra disinfection of the kitchen, and vital communication with residents regarding the signs and symptoms and practices to prevent the spread of the illness. According to the Centers for Disease Control, norovirus is highly contagious and can spread anywhere people gather or food is served.

To date 40 residents and 11 staff members have contracted the illness; some were hospitalized and have now fully recovered, returning to Fredericka Manor in good health. As of today, March 31, less than 10 percent of residents have been infected with the virus. If no new cases are reported as of April 2, the safeguards will be lifted on Friday, April 3."


Contact Us