Louisiana health officials have confirmed that a stomach illness reported to have broken out at L’Auberge Casino in Lake Charles last week is the highly contagious norovirus, which has now infected at least 200 people.
Dr. Lacey Cavanaugh, regional director of the state’s Department of Health, told Fox News that around 200 had self-reported symptoms consistent with the norovirus. Although, she added, there are likely to be many more who have not reported their symptoms.
It’s believed the virus originated at the casino’s Madi Gras ball, which was attended by hundreds of people last weekend. However, the department’s efforts are now focused on containment rather than investigating the source.
“How it started at this point doesn’t really matter anymore, because now we are getting transmission within the community,” Cavanaugh told Fox. “So, however people picked it up in that setting, they are now taking it home and spreading it from one family member to another family member to another family member. So that is the real message that we need to get out today.”
Not to be Confused With…
The norovirus is a type of gastrointestinal illness, or stomach virus, that is spread easily from person to person or from consuming contaminated food or water. It causes vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain and usually runs its course after about three days.
Health officials have stressed that the illness should not be confused with the novel coronavirus outbreak that has consumed the headlines over the past few weeks and caused over 900 deaths worldwide, all but two in China.
They are recommending that people in the area stay at home, wash hands thoroughly, and disinfect areas with bleached-based household cleaners.
The Department of Health said anyone who has become ill with any of the norovirus symptoms should complete a survey online.
The Penn National-operated casino declined to comment when contacted by Fox Sunday, although management issued the following official statement last week:
“L’Auberge du Lac is aware of reported incidents of a stomach-related illness among a few guests and team members. The comfort and safety of our guests and team members is always our paramount concern, and we are cooperating fully with state health officials who are looking into the reports.
“In the meantime, we have 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.”