At least 1,000 people were exposed to what is believed to be Norovirus at a Santa Cruz, California, hotel. Santa Cruz County Public Health (SCCPH) has identified at least 80 people who were sickened as part of the outbreak. SCCPH chief of public health Bob Kennedy commented on the outbreak that, "We strongly suspect it’s the Norovirus, but we hope to have lab results back by Monday."
About 1,000 people may have been exposed at a Santa Cruz area hotel, which Kennedy declined to name, between Nov. 9 and Thursday. Public health is attempting to contact each person who may have been exposed, including hotel staff and guests.
Hotel workers are being monitored for symptoms and if they display signs of illness will be sent home until they are symptom free for 24 hours. The health department is also reviewing food-handling practices with workers and has supervised a thorough cleansing of the kitchen, bathrooms and dining areas.
Anyone who suspects they are suffering from the illness should contact their physician.
The Contra-Costa Times revealed the name of the hotel associated with the outbreak in an article published yesterday:
County health officials gave the restaurant [at Sanderlings resort] the OK to reopen around 8:45 p.m. Friday with the following conditions:
Facility and equipment cleaning and disinfection supervised and approved by Public Heath Department staff was completed.
Sanderlings’ 71 staff members had been interviewed by the county.
The employees received food handling education.
Sanderlings management will screen employees returning to work for illness and they will not be allowed to work if they feel sick at all. The management will also keep a log on this screening, which the Public Health Department can inspect on an unannounced basis.
Usual symptoms of Norovirus infection include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Headache and low-grade fever may also accompany this disease. The disease is usually mild and brief. It will develop 24 to 48 hours after contaminated food or water is ingested and lasts for 24 to 60 hours. People infected with Norwalk Virus usually recover in 2 to 3 days without serious or long-term health effects.
A 1999 study suggests that Norovirus may cause more outbreaks of food-borne illness than all bacteria and parasites. It is estimated that nearly 65% of nonbacterial gastroenteritis in the United States is attributable to Noroviruses. Approximately 181,000 cases occur annually, with no known associated deaths.