Officials say test results will confirm what caused weekend sickness

Signs were up over this morning at Big Springs Senior Assisted Living in Cedartown warning visitors they might want to come back another day after a virus outbreak is being handled within the facility.

Northwest Health District spokesman Logan Boss said that local health officials are still investigating what the virus outbreak is, but that residents and staff alike are experiencing symptoms that are linked to a norovirus.

"Norovirus is a relatively common infectious disease," Boss said. "What you always hear about happening on cruise ships, in schools a lot and in assisted living facilities quite a bit. It's nothing unusual. The real danger is when elderly people in particular contract norovirus, they can get dehydrated and it can complicate health problems they might be suffering from already."

Boss said that no real danger is posed to the community, but that Big Springs facility administration are asking family and visitors of residents to reconsider their visit for just a few days.

"They're also trying to isolate residents who are already sick in their rooms, and limit the amount of movement around the facility to limit any further spread of the virus," he said.

He added that "you don't want people coming in and being contaminated and then taking it back out into the community."

Though Boss said again that officials suspect norovirus, further testing will require several more days to confirm their suspicions.

He added the facility administration is following all recommendations for keeping residents who are sick from causing further spread, and taking proper cleaning procedures into mind.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC,) norovirus is highly contagious and infects young and old alike, typically gotten from someone already infected, or contaminated food, water or touching contaminated surfaces.

Inflammation of the stomach and intestines is the main cause of the symptoms suffered, ranging from stomach pain to more serious digestive issues.

Usually symptoms last no longer than 1 to 3 days, and most people can be sick with norovirus and never know it.

Washing hands carefully with soap and water - especially after using the bathroom, changing diapers - and always doing so before handling food is one of the best ways to keep from spreading norovirus if someone suspects they have gotten it.

Additionally, the CDC recommends washing fruits and vegetables and cooking seafood thoroughly, not preparing any food while sick, and thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting surfaces using a bleach water solution, roughly 5 to 25 tablespoons per every gallon of water. This includes everything one might have touched while sick, from countertops and door handles to sink faucets and chair arms, and much more.

The agency also suggests washing clothes thoroughly, and wearing rubber gloves while handling soiled laundry for as long as possible before wearing or using the items again. This includes towels and sheets.