Nearly half the residents of the Minneapolis Veterans Home have come down with a virus since the end of December, and officials say the illness was probably a contributing factor in the deaths of three patients.
Two new cases were reported on Friday and 151 of the 526 staff members have been affected since the first cases were reported shortly after Christmas. Minnesota Department of Health officials are investigating the illnesses as a likely outbreak of norovirus, which is common in nursing homes and similar facilities this time of year.
None of the other four state veterans homes has reported any outbreaks, but officials say they are taking precautions to limit exposure. At the Minneapolis home, where 149 of the 330 residents have reported virus-like symptoms, administrators have stopped new admissions through the weekend and asked that visits be limited, said Veterans Affairs spokeswoman Anna Lewicki Long. Patients are being fed in their rooms and group interactions are being limited.
Doug Schultz, a spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Health, said the deaths were cause for concern but not alarm. The three patients who died were in failing health before coming down with the virus.