The nursing home owner and her management company, Equestria Health Center, said it was the fifth death among a staff of around 100 by the virus.
Officials at the Oregon Department of Public Health have advised that all residents be screened for the virus. The public is also being told of the potential for a contact risk. “Every day the public is being asked to consider the possibility of an ongoing public health threat.” Public Health Department
As the virus spreads throughout the country, Oregon Health Department has asked that residents avoid contact with patients and persons with the virus. “It’s extremely unlikely that anything could take off and cause infection,” said Dr. John Waggoner of Klamath Falls, Oregon. “The likelihood is quite low.” Waggoner was not involved in the ongoing investigation of the nurse who has died. When the nurse arrived at the nursing home in April she tested positive for the virus. A total of 71 people in the home tested positive, but no new cases have shown up. One of the four confirmed cases occurred last month. The nursing home has closed its doors pending a full investigation. It currently employs a total of 140. “The public was very close to getting this right,” said Waggoner. The number of confirmed cases in the home is likely due to increased monitoring due to the spread of the virus, said Dr. Mark Seiden, the state health official in charge of the investigation. “What we’re learning is that the spread of this infectious disease is actually fairly rapid.” He said that the nursing home used to routinely test every new resident for the virus. It has since stopped.
Cases increased sharply two weeks ago. Since, four have died in the nursing home. But Seiden said, now that the numbers have begun dropping, the number of new infections could not continue to decline. “It’s going to get worse,” said Seiden. There is no vaccine for infection, and this illness also causes severe damage to blood vessels. “You could lose a leg or an arm or die,” said Seiden.
Seiden said that the virus was brought to the state’s attention by a nurse who came in contact with six of the seven people who tested positive for the virus. But by May, there were only two confirmed cases. Last week, a new patient began to be sick. But by Friday, five new cases had come forward. The nurse who was infected is a 31-year-old resident. “It’s extremely rare that they will be able to come in and infect anybody. The last time that happened was in New Jersey more than 50 years ago.” In Oregon, the nursing home closed all its beds this week at noon and said that all of the residents had been tested for the virus and were allowed to return home. A total of seven people tested positive for the virus, including four in the second month and one in December. Officials say there are no new potential illnesses.
Dr. John Waggoner, the public health public health officer in charge of the case, said that the nurse and others had been tested, but there was limited information on the effects of the virus. There’s only been one case of confirmed infection in Oregon so far. But the state has seen a significant number of cases in the first three weeks of this year, Seiden said.