Westchester Hilton Partygoers Sickened with Possible NorovirusApr 27, 2013
About 100 people attending events, including a fundraiser, at the Hilton Westchester in Rye Brook, New York began reporting gastrointestinal illnesses that appear to be a norovirus. The fundraiser was held at the Hilton’s Pelham Picture House.
Reports include symptoms typical to norovirus including stomach pains, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. One person has needed hospitalization, according to the Larchmont Mamaroneck Patch.
The county Health Department issued a press release stating that it suspects the illness is a norovirus, a highly contagious “stomach bug whose symptoms are vomiting and diarrhea. We are reaching out to interview all those who may be affected to help determine the source of the illness and to identify any new cases. We don’t know how many are affected yet.” To avoid contracting norovirus, the Health Department suggests people wash their hands thoroughly after every lavatory visit, between contact with other people, and before and after preparing food, said the Larchmont Mamaroneck Patch.
The investigation is ongoing; therefore, it is not clear if all of those people who have fallen ill were attending the fundraiser dinner function at the Pelham Picture House last Saturday or if some of those who have become sickened were attending other events at the Hilton, said LoHud.com. The number of illness reports is expected to continue to increase while the county Department of Health investigation continues.
A number of celebrities attended the Pelham Picture House fundraiser, including actress, Isabella Rossellini and film director, Benh Zeitlin. Jeffrey Klein (Democrat-Bronx), a State Senator who wrote the 2008 report entitled, “Restaurants That Are Enough to Make You Sick: An Analysis of Unsanitary Conditions at New York City and Westchester County Restaurants,” also attended the fundraiser, but said that his has not become ill, wrote LoHud.com. This outbreak “shows the need for letter grades for food establishments in the county similar to those in New York City,” Senator Klein pointed out, LoHud.com reported.
The Health Department said it dispatched inspectors to the Hilton and stated, “We are coordinating our response with both the Hilton and the organizers of these events,” LoHud.com wrote. A Hilton spokesman said that the hotel “is making every effort to ensure that all practices and standards are in line with safety and sanitation guidelines.”
Norovirus are a group of viruses that cause swelling in the stomach lining and in the lining of the intestinal tract, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explained. Some 20 million cases of norovirus, including 70,000 hospitalizations and 800 deaths are reported each year. Norovirus is a highly contagious, severe gastrointestinal illness also known as the “stomach flu.” The virus rapidly spreads because norovirus transmits very easily through the vomit and feces of contaminated people; contact with only a few particles can make a person very ill.
Norovirus can survive for weeks on surfaces at room temperature and is very challenging to eliminate. Alcohol-based sanitizers, for instance, do not kill norovirus; only chlorine bleach eradicates the virus. People are considered contagious with norovirus from when they begin to feel ill until at least three days after symptoms have subsided; however, the virus may remain active in their vomit or stool for another two weeks.
People who are sick with norovirus should stay home, limit contact with others, avoid handling food for others, drink plenty of fluids, and contact a doctor, the Health Department said. Other than drinking plenty of liquids and remaining hydrated, there are no treatments and there is no cure for norovirus.