A mysterious virus attacked elderly residents of the Camlu Apartments recently, making some senior citizens so ill they were hospitalized.
About 30 of the 70 tenants of the retirement apartment complex came down with vomiting and diarrhea in the past two weeks, prompting alarmed administrators to call health officials.
“Did I overreact? I have no idea,” said Larry Kelly, whose first day as Camlu’s administrator was Nov. 1, in the midst of the outbreak. “I just wanted to make sure we were doing everything and anything we could to make sure everyone got better.”
Steve McMillan of the Panhandle Health District said Kelly did the right thing. It’s the fourth outbreak of this kind in the past few months in North Idaho, he said.
“That’s a lot of people ill,” he said. “You’re dealing with people’s lives.”
While at least one resident still is hospitalized, most of the other ill residents have recovered, Kelly said.
Although tests are not definitive, McMillan said he believes the cause is the Norwalk virus, which is a leading cause of non-bacterial food-borne illnesses in the United States.
North Idaho has seen its own strain of the Norwalk virus strike several times - usually at large gatherings involving food.
Most recently, private parties at the Coeur d’Alene Inn and Mallards Restaurant in Post Falls have suffered a high number of illnesses for which the Norwalk virus is the primary suspect. The virus also was spied in the water supply that made about 100 Girl Scouts at Camp Four Echoes sick in July.
Most outbreaks of the virus have been associated with poor sanitation.