New stomach bug on the rise in long-term care facilities, report finds

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Epidemiologists are concerned about a sharp increase in nursing home outbreaks of the stomach bug known as sapovirus, a cousin of the more common norovirus, a new study reports

Researchers warn that sapovirus can be life-threatening in the elderly and advise healthcare facilities to follow the same prevention protocols used to prevent norovirus, such as careful food preparation and diligent hand-washing procedures. Like with norovirus, symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting and stomach pain. 

When health researchers in Oregon and Minnesota reviewed samples from 2,161 gastrointestinal outbreaks in those two states, they were surprised to find that one-quarter of the 93 non-norovirus outbreaks were caused by the sapovirus. Of the 21 sapovirus outbreaks that the Oregon investigators studied, 66% of them were in long-term care facilities.

The study was published Wednesday in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.