CREATED Dec. 2, 2013
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- The Southern Nevada Health District has confirmed Norovirus in two people who became sick while in Las Vegas last week. 18 people who were staying at Rio hotel and casino were transported to a local hospital after becoming ill last Friday morning.
A statement from Caesars Entertainment Corporation, which operates the hotel, reports that approximately 100 Rio guests became ill over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend with stomach flu-like symptoms. The people who became sick were in Las Vegas for a youth football tournament held at locations around the valley.
On Monday, Action News started hearing from other people who fell ill with similar symptoms, but were not part of the sports group.
Las Vegas resident Jasmine Lee has been sick for four days. "When I stand up I feel light headed. My stomach is 'woozy'. I feel like I have to use the bathroom." Lee says she was at the hotel last Wednesday, which was the same day several of the visiting football competitors arrived at the facility. Many of them came down with stomach flu-like symptoms on Friday.
"There were a lot of kids that were in the Rio [Friday] night but we never stopped anywhere around children. We went straight from the front [of the hotel] to the craps table," she adds. "We're residents of Las Vegas and we're being hit with the same affects," says her mother Hjordis Ellis. Ellis says she got the bug from her daughter, who reportedly fell ill on Friday. The two do not know if the Norovirus is to blame for their illnesses.
Nancy Williams is an epidemiologist for the Southern Nevada Health District. The source of the illness has not been determined and Williams says we may never know the exact source since the virus spreads quickly and easily. "It's so common, it could come from anywhere," said Williams. "It's very hard to pinpoint an original source."
Justin Gates, competition director for Sports Network International, said between 90 and 100 people became sick from up to nine different teams. The health district said it did not have an exact count on the number sick.
The Norovirus infection is characterized by nausea, forceful vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain.
The Rio helped people who were sick get medical assistance and some guests may have already been sick when they arrived at the hotel, said Gary Thompson, director of corporate communications for Caesars Entertainment in a statement.
The health district inspected all of the Rio's food outlets and they are not believed to be the cause, said Thompson.
While no similar illness has been reported at other Caesars properties in Las Vegas, "we have taken several steps to assist guests and employees and have voluntarily implemented strict Norovirus prevention protocols at all of our properties here," according to the statement.
Williams said people who got sick were also staying at other hotels around the valley.