HEPATITIS B: Dozens of Nursing Home Patients Test Positive
Fifty patients at the Burlingame-based SunBridge Care and Rehabilitation nursing home have tested positive for the hepatitis B virus and one resident has developed the disease, prompting local, state and federal health officials to investigate, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Dr. Scott Morrow, a San Mateo County health officer, said that although the virus is common among the general population, it is unusual to see so many cases in a single location, especially in a nursing home where hepatitis B is rare. "It seems high, but we just don't know the significance of it yet," Morrow said. Karen Gilliland, a spokesperson for the Sun Healthcare Corp., which owns the 274-bed facility, disputed Morrow's assertion that 50 residents have the virus. "I can't discuss anything because the investigation is ongoing. No conclusions have been reached at all," Gilliland said. The investigation began taking shape last month when a nursing home physician discovered hepatitis B in an 80-year-old resident. The CDC, joined by county officials, "descended on the nursing home" and tested 150 residents, finding 50 positive cases. While the disease is highly infectious, "Most [residents] will fight it off and not become carriers," Morrow said. Commenting on how the initial resident contracted the virus, State Department of Health Services spokesperson Ken August said, "As we learn more about that, we will be able to fill in more. It's too early in the investigation. It would be speculation at this point." This latest investigation comes one month after state officials cleared Sun Healthcare of negligence in the deaths of eight patients at its Pleasant Hill and Fremont nursing facilities (Squatriglia/Lynem, 1/25).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.