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Flu Killing Nursing Home Residents in Japan

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Technophobe View Drop Down
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    Posted: January 22 2019 at 4:31pm
Nursing homes see spate of deaths amid flu outbreak across Japan

Kyodo, JIJI

    Jan 22, 2019
    Article history

Amid an outbreak of influenza, the nation has seen a spate of deaths in recent days following mass infections at nursing care facilities.

A facility called Shimizu Funai no Sato in Nantan, Kyoto Prefecture, said Tuesday that an 83-year-old resident died Sunday amid the outbreak, which has infected 14 residents in their 70s to 90s and 12 staff members.

The man’s condition deteriorated rapidly on Saturday before his death the following day, according to the facility. Others diagnosed with influenza are recovering, the facility said.

On Monday, the Hyogo Prefectural Government announced that seven residents of the Hokudanso facility in Awaji died after contracting influenza this month.

The residents, age between 71 and 99, were among 74 residents and staff members who came down with the disease.

According to the prefectural government, a staff member at the facility was diagnosed with influenza on Jan. 8. The facility reported the mass infection on Jan. 11, when one of the residents died.

All residents and staff members at the facility received flu vaccinations, but only staff members were given anti-flu drugs as a precaution.

Hideki Yoshimura, who heads the facility’s operator, Chidorikai, said the company dealt with the problem by temporarily barring infected staff from coming to work and infected residents from going out, among other measures.

“The infection has spread much further than expected,” Yoshimura added.

On Sunday, the Akita Prefectural Government said a 96-year-old woman diagnosed with influenza died of pneumonia at the Shokyoen facility in the town of Ugo, bringing the death toll from the outbreak at the site to four this month.

At a news conference on Sunday, Yutaka Ando, the mayor of Ugo — which runs the facility — vowed to prevent further deaths.

According to Ando and other officials, the facility has spaces for infected residents partitioned with curtains because it has no private rooms. They said the measure is appropriate as it follows the health ministry’s guidelines.

“We will consider measures to be taken when flu infection occurs at the facility, including isolation,” Ando said.

According to the health ministry’s latest data, the average number of flu patients per medical institution exceeded 30, a threshold which suggests an outbreak, in the week through Jan. 13.

The total number of flu patients who were treated at medical institutions across the country during that week is estimated at 1,635,000, nearly triple the total of about 586,000 the previous week.

Source:   https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/01/22/national/nursing-homes-see-spate-deaths-amid-flu-outbreak-across-japan/#.XEezxM3gqM8
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DeepThinker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 22 2019 at 5:24pm
I work in long term care/rehab in Southern California. This year we have only seen sporadic cases since early fall.    I have seen nothing that looks like an outbreak (they are usually very obvious in this setting). Lately I am hearing about a lot of sick people through conversations and what I see and hear in the media, however I still don't see it at work.

Maybe it is still a bit early or maybe are lucky this year... but this is my observation.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DeepThinker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 22 2019 at 5:47pm
The problem in these types of facilities is you have WAY to many people living too close together.   It spreads so fast that by the time you start noticing cases it is too late to do anything.   There is only two ways to make a dent.

One way is to prevent any one who is sick from entering the building (Staff are only a part of problem. On an average day there is probably 2x the number of vendors and visitors than there is staff coming to the building).   You need some way to objectively know who is sick or not and currently there is no way to tell that.   Even if there was you still have to catch these people before symptoms.   All that said I still think every health care facility should have temp scanners at all their entrances. Secondly we need management to allow people to stay home when they are sick. If I am sick, I have to call my direct supervisor, the director of nursing AND the facility 4-8 hours before my shift and get my call off approved.   Getting your call off approved has way more to do with staffing levels than your reason for having a day off. If we are short they won't approve the day off EVEN if you are sick.   While my current workplace is more reasonable than the last, they make it very very clear they don't like call offs. We where actually told at my last job and I quote "I don't care about doctors notes we have a building to staff".

The only other thing that can make a difference is you have to become completely obsessive when it comes to cleanliness and sanitation.   We need UV air-filters/robots.   And/or every surface in the place needs to be wiped down with bleach every couple hours. Both of these options are quite expensive so they tend to get neglected.

The only other thing that might help (research still seems in the early stages) is much better control over temp and humidity in the place. While flu can spread and even have epidemics any time of the year... the virus needs specific environmental conditions for it to really spread fast.


Sidenote:Normally I am told the only practical response is to vaccinate everyone, I guess it didn't work this time.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote EdwinSm, Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 23 2019 at 1:55am
I thought that this was interesting. It implies either a mismatch in the vaccination, or that it doesn't work very well in older people. A CFR of around 10% seems to be serious (especially if the younger staff are included in the 74 ill).

Originally posted by Technophobe Technophobe wrote:

All residents and staff members at the facility received flu vaccinations,

....announced that seven residents of the Hokudanso facility in Awaji died after contracting influenza this month.

The residents, age between 71 and 99, were among 74 residents and staff members who came down with the disease.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Technophobe Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 23 2019 at 5:46am


It is too early to tell, but it could be a new strain emerging. I reported it so we could watch its progress (if any). That would explain why there are rumors but no evidence as DeepThinker says.

To continue with his points, I could not agree more! I understand why we do not have such rigid infection control and up-to-the-minute equipment (money!), but we should. To fail in this is to value the cash above the people.

Well said DT!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DeepThinker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 23 2019 at 9:29am
Having modern equipment would help... however I think the big thing is attitude of management. Good sanitation practice is not a new concept. It could be done with manpower and elbow grease. First we need better policies and procedures.

New equipment would demonstrate their commitment and make our jobs much easier.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Technophobe Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 23 2019 at 1:11pm
Same ethos: "Profits before people."
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