BONITA SPRINGS — Three Southwest Florida senior living centers are facing small outbreaks of an as-yet undetermined illness.
Public health officials in Collier County confirmed the Department of Health is investigating two locations that reported sick residents in the past week.
A third center in Bonita Springs is on lockdown after several people fell ill this week.
"It is the time of year definitely where facilities — like assisted living, day-care, schools, anywhere people congregate together, start to see more outbreaks of a variety of illnesses," said Deb Millsap, spokeswoman for the Collier County Health Department.
Flu and noroviruses are two common diseases that flourish in winter. However, the public health departments haven't yet determined the cause of the outbreak and are awaiting lab results.
The Collier County Health Department doesn't disclose the names of centers that report outbreaks. But officials at the 134-unit Tuscany Villa in East Naples disclosed that is one of the two Naples-area locations.
"As with other senior living providers in the area, we can confirm that we have experienced an outbreak of a virus, beginning in late November, that has caused flu-like symptoms for some of our residents and employees," management wrote in a statement Wednesday. "We contacted the Collier County Health Department and the Agency for Health Care Administration immediately, and have taken prompt and aggressive measures to address this issue, including the temporary closing of both dining rooms with meal delivery to resident rooms, cancellation of resident group activities as well as deep cleaning and sanitization."
Management is encouraging Tuscany Villa residents to stay in their apartments until the outbreak passes.
The number of sick residents wasn't made public. However, health officials said it isn't as severe as the May outbreak at Bentley Village in North Naples, when flu-like symptoms struck 32 residents.
The name of the second senior center in Collier County wasn't released.
The Emeritus at Bonita Springs was on lockdown as of Tuesday, with residents asked to stay in their rooms, including for meals, after a reported outbreak of flu-like symptoms that began last week.
As of Wednesday, nine residents and two staff members were affected at the 148-apartment senior center, according to a written statement from Resident Care Director James Scobey.
"Our staff is educated in the correct protocols to minimize the spreading of this illness. Staff members who are affected are on sick leave. We are also following Health Department recommendations, such as limiting group and social activities, and family and friend visits," he added.
As did Millsap, Diane Holm of the Lee County Health Department downplayed the outbreaks.
"It really is not a major issue unless it's affecting a large percentage of their clients," she said of the Emeritus, "and it is not at this point by any means."