Norovirus breaks out in US casino

Norovirus breaks out in US casino

The Department of Health of Louisiana, USA, has confirmed an outbreak of the norovirus in a US casino. Over 200 guests of the L’Auberge Casino in Lake Charles have been infected with the dreaded germ. The symptoms are severe nausea, stomach cramps, vomiting and diarrhea. A number of other infections are expected. Here is an overview.

A doctor examines virus cultures in petri dishes.

The US health authorities speak of a particularly aggressive form of the virus. © CDC / Unsplash

Warning of rapid spread

The new type of corona virus is currently causing a sensation in Asia and Europe, and the Macau gaming delta has been at a standstill since last week due to an increased risk of infection. Meanwhile, the outbreak of the highly contagious norovirus in a US casino is making further headlines. More than 200 guests at the L’Auberge Lake Charles Casino Hotel in Louisiana have contracted the pathogen that has been known since 1968.

As a result of their stay in the casino, visitors complained of stomach cramps, nausea and diarrhea, and some suffered from fever. Meanwhile, according to Sean Ellis, a U.S. Department of Health official, it is being investigated whether the outbreak actually originated in the casino. The surrounding communities were urged by the authorities to take special hygiene measures to protect themselves from infection.

That the outbreak took place inside the casino is, according to Dr. Lacey Cavanaugh, the region's medical director, probably. Almost all first-time patients had indicated that they had previously stayed in the establishment operated by Penn National Gaming (Pennsylvania). Cavanaugh was concerned about the rapid spread of the virus. Since the casino is a public place, a number of other infections are also expected.

The people in the private environment of the infected people could show the first symptoms “very soon”, according to the doctor. It is therefore a top priority to ensure that the virus does not spread even if the casino is not the source of the spread. One statement said:

“Where exactly it started is no longer important, what we will experience is a transmission within the communities. It doesn't matter how and where people get infected, they are now taking the virus home and transferring it from one family member to another. That is the real message that we need to convey. ”

“Highly contagious species”

The health ministry was first notified of the outbreak on February 05, and a number of people reported that they fell ill while visiting the L’Auberge Casino. However, the symptoms, including extreme vomiting diarrhea, actually do not start until 24 to 48 hours after the infection of a patient.

The Louisiana health authorities therefore speak of a “highly contagious type of gastrointestinal disease”. This could affect anyone who has direct contact with an infected person or touches contaminated surfaces. Since noroviruses are among the most common pathogens worldwide, the authorities do not classify the outbreak as “a more widespread threat to the public”, but still want to monitor the situation closely.

To this end, health authorities ask everyone in the region who has had norovirus symptoms in the past two weeks to complete an online survey to help with the investigation. The responsible doctor Dr. Frank Welch commented to CNN:

“People with norovirus can spread the disease easily from the moment the symptoms appear to several days after their recovery. Some people can spread the norovirus for up to three weeks. There are no medications to prevent the outbreak, so hand washing is the best protection. ”

Consequences for the casino?

Penn National Gaming, the operator of the casino, has not yet commented on the incidents. Michael Pendergast, Managing Director of L’Auberge Casino, announced today with a short statement. One is “aware of the reported incidents of gastric disease in a few guests and team members,” said the CEO. In addition, it said:

“The comfort and safety of our guests and team members is always our most important concern. We fully cooperate with government health officials who review our reports. In the meantime, we have put in place strict hygiene procedures. ”

There should be no temporary closure of the casino due to the risk of infection. The question arises whether the casino could have counteracted a spread at all. Nevertheless, the casino should at least in the foreseeable future

suffer from falling visitor numbers.

Current example Macau

How serious the spread of a virus can be in the casino business can currently be seen in the Chinese special administrative region of Macau, where the new corona virus has paralyzed all casinos. Due to infections in the casino environment, Prime Minister Ho Iat Seng had gambling stopped for at least half a month. Ho spoke of a “critical time”, the residents should not leave the house.

The casino closures meanwhile are causing serious economic downturns, because Macau's GDP (gross domestic product) is generated by more than 60 percent from gaming revenue. There are no tourists from Hong Kong and China, and the sector is down around 80 percent. Just a few days ago, the market giant Wynn Resorts (Las Vegas) announced that it would lose around $ 2.4 million a day through the containment measure.

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