Health officials investigate multiple flu outbreaks at nursing homes

Updated: Feb. 12, 2018 at 2:43 PM EST
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Jacqueline Jenkins (Source: WALB)
Jacqueline Jenkins (Source: WALB)
Jenkins has suggested no visitation at PruittHealth Palmyra. (Source: WALB)
Jenkins has suggested no visitation at PruittHealth Palmyra. (Source: WALB)

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Health officials are keeping a close eye on nursing homes and other long-term care facilities in our region.

We've learned over a dozen nursing homes in southwest Georgia have experienced flu outbreaks this flu season.

A flu outbreak means a cluster of more than three cases at one facility.

During this flu season, 14 or 15 nursing homes have reported outbreaks within our 14-county district, according to epidemiologist Jacqueline Jenkins.

Jenkins said she's investigated clusters of flu cases in several nursing homes throughout the district for the last two or three weeks.

Long-term care facilities contact the health department when they notice increased illness among their residents.

Jenkins said the health department then provides suggestions and infection control to monitor the situation along with the long-term care facility.

One of those suggestions could be limiting visitors, or even banning them for a time.

"The population is so vulnerable. Having a lot of people come in and mix is not a good thing," she said. "Because, pretty much, the residents aren't going anywhere, so the flu that's getting to them is being brought in. That's why we limit visitation.  And sometimes if the cluster is pretty big, I recommend that they have no visitation."

Jenkins said she recommended no visitation for PruittHealth-Palmyra because of their flu outbreak.

She said it's also important staff working at these long-term facilities have received their flu vaccines.

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