10/26/10 — 6th case of hepatitis B possible

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6th case of hepatitis B possible

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on October 26, 2010 1:46 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- A possible sixth case of hepatitis B at GlenCare assisted living facility is being investigated after a resident was hospitalized at Wayne Memorial Hospital over the weekend.

The news comes on the heels of last week's announcement that five senior citizens at the facility had tested positive for the virus and four had died, all since August.

Health officials would not confirm that the latest case is hepatitis B.

"I really don't have the labs that confirm that," said Josa Raynor-Vaughn, communicable diseases program manager for the Health Department, who said she had been notified by the hospital of the patient's admittance.

She said she was not in a position to comment on the patient's condition or diagnosis "until the confirmatory test comes back."

Wayne County Health Director James Roosen said the incubation period for the disease can be anywhere from one month to six months. It is further complicated by the fact that not everybody with the virus gets sick, he said.

The state's Division of Public Health and Wayne County Health Department are investigating patient safety practices and looking into the possible origination of the outbreak.

Officials at the facility also released a statement indicating their cooperation with the investigation.

Initially, a spokesperson at GlenCare reported that the facility remained open but visitation was limited to family members only.

On Monday, a representative of the nursing staff, speaking under condition of anonymity, said there was no limit on visitors but requested consideration be made of the current situation.

"We still don't want a circus because we're working very hard to vaccinate everyone, draw blood and get the results to the physicians," she said. "This here is devastating to the residents and staff ... It's been difficult on everybody."

She also said that while the loss of four residents had been upsetting, the outbreak is not unique to GlenCare.

"This is a situation occurring statewide and across the country," she said. "I was looking online about hepatitis and saw cases in California and West Virginia and other places."

Roosen said he believed every effort was being made to alleviate the situation and comply with state regulations.

"All we're trying to do is test everybody who may have been exposed and then vaccinate the patients," he said. "I realize that's not any new news but that's what we're hoping to do, the best we can.

"The main thing is ... we have done a real good job with the partnership in terms of sharing information and trying to find out what happened."

Staff at GlenCare declined to say how many residents are currently at the facility, but Roosen speculated the number at between 53 and 55. According to its website, the facility has a capacity for 104 residents.