Nearly 200 people were sickened after attending a catered party at downtown Seattle, a public health official said on Monday, Dec. 7. The incident is said to be a norovirus outbreak.
Russell Investments Center was filled with about 600 attendees, of whom, 175 to 200 complained of illness. Public health epidemiologist Meagan Kay said the numbers may still go up as investigations continue in the coming days.
The catering company that served during the event is Bon Appetit Management Co, which said that they have worked with food safety experts to clean and disinfect facility surfaces. “The source of this illness remains unclear, and we are as eager as anyone to learn precisely how and when it began,” a company spokesperson said.
Prior to the incident, a number of similar cases have already surfaced. The Public Health-Seattle & King County is still currently investigating about the outbreak, which may have begun before the catered party.
So far, two individuals have already been admitted to the hospital where they stayed for one night. Another eight attendees had to make a trip to the emergency room however; Kay said their conditions were not identified.
People were said to have vomited in restrooms. As building surfaces and other amenities were put on a high risk of contamination, staff performed disinfection interventions over the weekend.
Norovirus is a typical infection that occurs more than dozens of time each year. During this season, the virus can be transmitted from one person to another in a rapid manner, Kay said.
Norovirus is highly communicable and can cause illness to anyone. People may contract the virus from consuming contaminated water and food. The virus can also stay in surfaces thus, getting in contact with contaminated materials may also cause a person to develop illness.
CDC said norovirus attacks the body by causing inflammation of the stomach and intestines, subsequently causing nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Clinical manifestations can get serious, specifically in the very young and very old.
Health experts said patients who got infected by norovirus can spread the diseases for several weeks. With this, people are advised to wash hands frequently and practice good sanitation practices.