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Mystery illness strikes Largo assisted living facility

Hazardous materials units checked air quality after people became ill in a unit at Grand Villa of Largo and were taken to area hospitals. A virus is suspected.

Eamonn W. Kneeshaw | Special to the Times

Hazardous materials units checked air quality after people became ill in a unit at Grand Villa of Largo and were taken to area hospitals. A virus is suspected.

LARGO — The Pinellas County Health Department will investigate today to determine why 11 people were evacuated from an assisted living facility Sunday showing flu-like symptoms.

Ten were taken to nearby hospitals. One refused treatment.

John Moschner, director of operations for Grand Villa of Largo, said some residents had been released from the hospital as of Sunday night and some were being kept overnight.

The conditions of those still hospitalized could not be determined Sunday night.

"They're doing very well,'' Moschner said. He said he did not know if any of the patients had returned to the assisted living facility.

Largo Fire Rescue personnel responded to Grand Villa of Largo at 750 Starkey Road after receiving a call at 7:47 a.m. from the facility. They initially feared some sort of airborne material might have caused the patients and a staff member to experience nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Officials called in hazardous materials units from Largo and St. Petersburg to check the air quality. Tests came back negative.

The affected individuals either live or work in a lockdown memory unit, said Brian Brady, Largo Fire Rescue district chief.

He said a viral infection could have caused the people to become sick. Moschner agreed.

Victims were taken to Suncoast Hospital in Largo and Morton Plant Hospital in Clearwater.

A Grand Villa official told Bay News 9 that a full cleaning of the premises would take place at a later date.

Eileen Schulte can be reached at or (727) 445-4153.

Mystery illness strikes Largo assisted living facility 04/20/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 22, 2008 9:33am]
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