“Respiratory-type illness” possible cause of six deaths at Nursing home

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The Health Service Executive has begun an investigation into the deaths of the six elderly patients at a nursing home near Buncrana.

The victims, five of whom have died in the last five days, are believed to have succumbed to a “respiratory-type illness” at the Nazareth House nursing home in Fahan. All of the people who died were aged over eighty.

Of the remaining 39 residents at the nursing home, 27 are reported to be showing respiratory symptoms and are being treated with anti-viral drugs.

Their condition is not said to be critical, but visitor restrictions are in place.

All residents at the home are currently receiving either active or preventative treatment, the HSE said last night.

Yesterday evening just after 7.30pm the HSE issued a statement evealing the deaths. The statement said the HSE has put in place “all appropriate treatment and control measures and is closely managing and monitoring the situation.”

Ministers for Health, Dr James Reilly TD and Minister for Older People, Ms Kathleen Lynch TD, have extended their sympathies to the families of the deceased.

The HSE statement is as follows: “Dr James Reilly TD, Minister for Health and Ms Kathleen Lynch TD, Minister for Older People learned with regret of the deaths of six patients in a private nursing home in Co Donegal over the past two weeks. “The Ministers have been advised that the HSE has put in place all appropriate treatment and control measures and is closely managing and monitoring the situation.

“In addition to the actions being taken by the HSE, Minister Reilly has today discussed the matter with the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA). On foot of that conversation, HIQA will now visit the home tonight and tomorrow to ensure that all action is taken in the best interests of the care and welfare of the residents and staff.

“The Ministers are being kept fully informed as this situation evolves.

“The Ministers express their condolences to the families concerned.”

It is understood there are about 39 residents at the home.

The HSE’s director of public health for the region, Dr Peter Wright, said health authorities were closely managing and monitoring the situation.

Dr Wright said respiratory illness was a common cause of death in older people. He added: “The HSE’s public health team will work closely with the nursing home management to determine the nature of the illness,” he said.

Blood samples from the patients have been sent to the National Viral Reference Laboratory for determination as part of the investigation.

The HSE has also requested that GPs report unusual clusters of respiratory illness.