Norovirus Outbreak Linked to Louisiana Casino Leaves More than 200 People Sick

Tuesday 11th February 2020

As concerns about the coronavirus continue to spread worldwide, a community in Louisiana is busy with a norovirus outbreak.

The Louisiana Office of Public Health is investigating the outbreak, which began in the Lake Charles area, and "appears to be spreading in the Calcasieu and Vernon Parishes," the state's department of health announced in a press release on Thursday.

Officials first became aware of the outbreak, which has made more than 200 people sick, CNN reported on Monday, after there were reports of people getting sick after visiting the L'Auberge Casino Resort Lake Charles.

The casino's general manager, Michael Pendergast, tells PEOPLE that they are working with the department of health and that there are "stringent sanitation procedures in place."

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"L'Auberge Lake Charles is actively working with the Louisiana Department of Health regarding a possible norovirus outbreak in Calcasieu and Vernon Parishes, which includes the Lake Charles Area," Pendergast says in a statement. "The comfort and safety of our guests and team members is always our paramount concern."

Pendergast continues, "L'Auberge Lake Charles has stringent sanitation procedures in place. In addition, we are reminding guests and team members to regularly wash their hands and take other health safety precautions. We'll be continuing to monitor the situation closely."

The Louisiana Office of Public Health said in its release that while symptoms of the norovirus are similar to those of the common stomach flu -- including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and mild fever -- "norovirus is not related to influenza."

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"People with norovirus can easily spread the illness from the moment they begin experiencing symptoms to several days after they recover," said the Louisiana Department of Health's immunization director Dr. Frank Welch in a statement.

"Some people can continue to spread norovirus for up to three weeks," he added. "There are no medications to prevent norovirus, which is why frequent handwashing is your best protection."

To prevent the spread of norovirus, health officials encourage anyone who has experienced vomiting or diarrhea to stay home from work or school for at least 24 hours after the symptoms stopped, as well as frequent hand washing, and disinfecting of frequently-touched surfaces. Healthcare workers and food handlers should stay home for 48 hours after symptoms have stopped.

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