35 sickened with norovirus at Phoenix VA hospital

The Phoenix VA Hospital at the center of the 2014 Veterans Health Administration scandal confirmed that 35 people at the hospital have been sickened by norovirus.

On Tuesday, hospital officials said that 16 patients and 19 staff members were ill with the contagious stomach virus at the Carl T. Hayden Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

All of the infected were from two inpatient mental health units, according to a hospital press release. All but three people have fully recovered, and those who are still ill are being treated in a separate medical unit at the hospital.

The hospital temporarily stopped admitting patients to the mental health unit, canceled group activities, and disinfected the hospital in an attempt to prevent spreading the virus.

Officials say veterans who needed inpatient assistance during that time were transferred to community healthcare providers or other VA facilities.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), anyone can pick up the contagious disease from an infected person, contaminated food or water, or by touching a contaminated surface.

The virus causes 19 to 21 million cases of acute gastroenteritis—  inflammation of the stomach or intestines or both— each year in the United States. The CDC says over 80 percent of the outbreaks occur from November to April.

This outbreak is the latest in a long line of difficulties for the hospital.

In 2014, an independent report by the Department of Veterans Affairs inspector general’s office said at least 1,700 veterans at the Phoenix VA Hospital who wanted to make an appointment were never placed on an official wait list.