Possible norovirus outbreak at Colby living facility

EVERETT — Eight residents and three staff members at Cascadian Place, an independent living facility for older adults, have become sickened by what health officials suspect is norovirus.

The common virus, sometimes called cruise ship disease, can cause nausea, diarrhea, fever, chills and muscle aches. Symptoms often begin within 12 to 48 hours after exposure.

“It sounds like it’s norovirus,” Heather Thomas, a Snohomish Health District spokeswoman, said Thursday. The agency’s communicable disease staff have sent over fact sheets on the disease and guidelines from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “on how to handle the situation and keep everybody as well as possible,” she said.

Cascadian Place is at 3915 Colby Ave. Signs have been posted asking family members “not to visit during this time” as part of an infectious disease protocol, said Brian Fawkes, a spokesman for Portland-based Holiday Retirement, which operates the facility. That’s one of the steps being taken to try to minimize the spread of the intestinal disease, he said.

“We have to make sure we have a clean bill of health,” Fawkes said. “That means no other residents or staff members come down with the virus.”

The eight sickened residents are among 105 people who live there, he said. The three sickened employees are among a staff of 22 people who have become ill. Fawkes said he did not know if anyone has been hospitalized due to the illness.

Residents are being served food in their rooms. The health district has recommended that residents remain in their rooms to try to minimize exposure to the disease. “It can spread quite rapidly,” Thomas said.

Thomas said that if anyone who has been to the facility believes they’ve come down with norovirus or a foodborne illness they should report it to the health district’s communicable disease division at 425-339-5278.

Cascadian’s cafeteria is licensed by the health district. The public health agency’s staff will do an inspection in the next day or to two make sure sanitation protocols are being followed to prevent the virus from spreading, Thomas said.

Norovirus can spread quickly in close living quarters by either eating food or touching surfaces contaminated by the virus.

Sharon Salyer:425-339-3486; salyer@heraldnet.com.

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