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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Norovirus toll climbs to nearly 400 at rehab center

By Stephen Smith, Globe Staff

Boston health officials reported today that their review of an ongoing outbreak of gastrointestinal illness at Hebrew Rehabilitation Center shows that 241 patients and 151 staff members have fallen ill since Feb. 21.

Those figures are substantially higher than Friday, when the Boston Public Health Commission last released figures on the outbreak at the Roslindale facility. Then, 225 patients and 119 staff were listed as having experienced nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea -- classic symptoms of norovirus, the infection that has sickened tens of thousands in New England and across the country this winter.

But Tom Lyons, spokesman for the Boston health agency, cautioned that the latest numbers, which indicate a total of 392 people have become ill, do not necessarily reflect a burst of new infections. Instead, the city's investigation is identifying people who became sick earlier in the outbreak but who weren't included in the count.

In the past day, only three new cases have been recorded, Lyons said. Still, he said, city disease trackers are reluctant to declare that the outbreak is trailing off until there have been several additional days when few if any additional infections are reported.

Posted by Karen Weintraub at 05:26 PM
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