Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) would like to alert the medical community about an increase in gastrointestinal illnesses noted in long term care facilities in Delaware. Gastrointestinal illness usually increases during the winter months. Investigation has determined that the length of illness has been relatively short at (24-48 hours) and involves nausea, vomiting and diarrhea which could indicate a viral pathogen. DPH has received reports from three facilities. These reports are being investigated and infection control recommendations have been provided to each facility.
Norovirus has been detected from specimens submitted to the DPH Laboratory from two of the three facilities involved. Norovirus is transmitted by the fecal-oral route. Airborne transmission by fomites has been suggested to explain the rapid spread in hospital settings. Community outbreaks have been caused by food and water vehicles. The incubation period is 24-48 hours. Patients are communicable during the acute stage of illness and up to 48 hours after diarrhea stops.
DPH Laboratory (DPHL) has the capability to test for Norovirus and other viral pathogens. Arrangements for laboratory testing must be made through DPH Epidemiology.
Contact DPH, Epidemiology office at 302-744-4541 or 1-888-295-5156 to report possible clusters, to arrange for laboratory testing, and questions.