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Suspected norovirus outbreak sickens residents at Forest Grove retirement center

A gastrointestinal bug sickened about a quarter of the residents at Jennings McCall Retirement Community in Forest Grove this week, according to Washington County health department officials.

The retirement center, located at 2300 Masonic Way, is home to abut 200 people. About 55 residents fell ill with flu-like symptoms after the first case was reported April 22. Those displaying symptoms were asked to remain in their rooms.

By Friday, however, officials said the outbreak appeared to be contained.

“This is a suspected norovirus case,” said Wendy Gordon, county HHS communications coordinator, adding that county officials are conducting tests from samples at Jennings McCall to confirm the outbreak’s source.

Norovirus is commonly transmitted by eating or drinking foods contaminated with the virus, and hand washing is the best prevention, according to Washington County Health and Human Services officials. It cannot be treated with antibiotics.

Protocols for responding to norovirus outbreaks in group care facilities are outlined on the county’s website. People with symptoms should stay away from others and drink fluids to avoid dehydration. Duration is usually one to two days, and a person can be contagious up to 72 hours after recovery.

Sometimes called “winter vomiting virus,” the illness is especially common in communal living environments such as nursing homes, hospitals and schools.

This week’s incident was the third such outbreak at Jennings McCall since 2009, when about 21 residents and 23 care staff members were sickened. In 2013, about 40 residents and seven staffers fell ill.

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