Norovirus Outbreak at Louisiana Casino Sickens at Least 200, Officials Say

February 9, 2020 Updated: February 9, 2020
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An outbreak of norovirus, a highly contagious virus, has sickened at least 200 people at a Louisiana casino, according to state health officials.

The agency’s regional medical director Dr. Lacey Cavanaugh confirmed that more than 200 people were infected after visiting the L’Auberge Casino in Lake Charles, according to WVUE and The Associated Press.

Norovirus is a gastrointestinal illness that causes vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain. It is rarely fatal and usually clears up in a few days, according to the Mayo Clinic.

“How it started at this point doesn’t really matter anymore, because now we are getting transmission within the community. 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,” Cavanaugh said.

She added that the virus spreads easily and added that people are contagious up to three weeks after symptoms are gone.

Health officials told The Advocate that numerous people got sick at the casino’s Mardi Gras ball.

“The Louisiana Department of Health is aware of reported illnesses among visitors to L’Auberge Casino in Lake Charles and are in the process of conducting an investigation. In the event that there is a further threat to the public, we will proceed in a manner to protect the public’s health,” the health agency also told the paper.

The L’Auberge Casino issued a statement on its website and directed people to the Louisiana Department of Health site.

“Please see advisory from Louisiana Department of Health regarding possible norovirus outbreak in Calcasieu and Vernon Parishes, which includes the Lake Charles Area. 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,” the casino wrote.

The casino has not responded to a request for comment.

Louisiana’s Department of Health said in a statement that a virus outbreak was reported around Lake Charles and “appears to be spreading in the Calcasieu and Vernon Parishes” in Louisiana.

According to the agency, norovirus symptoms begin between 24 to 48 hours after infection and include vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, headache, body aches, a mild fever, and nausea.

Norovirus is not at all similar to the novel coronavirus that has sickened numerous people across China and spread to multiple countries in recent weeks. There have been reports of tens of thousands of cases of coronavirus inside mainland China, and officials believe it began spreading in Wuhan.