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Norovirus Sickens 150 at Hanover Retirement Community 

(Originally posted online Wednesday, Jan. 9. Updated to reflect the Jan. 10 edition of the Valley News.)

Hanover — The Kendal at Hanover retirement community has limited visits to its assisted living quarters and canceled classes and programs for the week following a gastrointestinal virus outbreak that infected about 150 residents and staff.

In an interview yesterday, Kendal at Hanover Executive Director Rebecca Smith said that officials sent a memo to staff and residents on Monday alerting them to cancellations caused by a small norovirus outbreak.

The center, located along Route 10, will forgo daily activities such as exercise classes, movie screenings and lectures, and officials have instituted a “take-out” only policy in the dining facilities in an attempt to avoid “having anyone in a communal dining setting,” Smith said.

“What we’re trying to do is limit large groups of people being in a room together,” she said.

Nurses may accompany residents who want to visit their spouses in the assisted living and skilled nursing quarters, known as the health center, she said.

About 420 people live at Kendal, Smith said, including health center and independent living residents. About 280 people work on staff.

Smith said she has heard of people becoming infected with norovirus from outside the Kendal community, as well.

Symptoms include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

“From what I’m hearing from staff and residents, when you get it, it’s very, very tough, but brief,” Smith said Smith. Most staff and residents have reported experiencing symptoms for 24 to 48 hours, she said.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center spokesman Rick Adams said the hospital has not seen an “appreciable” increase in patients affected by norovirus compared to past years.

The memo sent out to Kendal staff and residents on Monday included advisories from medical professionals, including Kendal’s medical director, to wash hands thoroughly and frequently.

People who experience norovirus symptoms should refrain from going into public areas until they are symptom-free for 48 hours, according to the memo, which noted that hand sanitizer does not protect against the virus.

Smith said leadership will reconvene midday tomorrow to determine whether to lift visiting restrictions and resume programming next week.

For the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s informational page on preventing norovirus, click here. For the CDC's main norovirus page, click here.