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Tests confirm norovirus as cause of Vegas football tournament outbreak

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Norovirus Identified As Cause Of Illness At Las Vegas Hotel


LAS VEGAS (AP) - An outbreak that sent about 28 people to the emergency room during a youth football tournament in Las Vegas was caused by norovirus, health officials said Monday.

Tournament spokesman Justin Gates said some 90 to 100 players, coaches and parents came down with symptoms including nausea, vomiting and diarrhea during the four-day National Youth Football Championships that ended Saturday. The stomach bug prompted tournament organizers to prohibit end-of-the-game handshakes between opposing players out of fear that participants might infect each other.

After two stool samples tested positive for norovirus, investigators at the Southern Nevada Health District pinned the blame on the illness, which is mostly food- or water-borne and can also be spread by an infected person. The exact source has not been determined, although organizers said there have been no obvious commonalities between the cases, such as a restaurant or hotel that all sick people visited.

"It's just a run-of-the-mill old virus," Gates said. "It's a weird year when you don't have this go through a team."

Southern Nevada Health District officials issued surveys to attendees and hope to determine the bug's origin, although that may not be possible, spokeswoman Jennifer Sizemore said.

The outbreak attracted attention when Clark County firefighters responded Friday to a cluster of sick people at the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino, where the tournament was headquartered. Eighteen people, including 13 children, were taken from the hotel to hospitals.

None of those taken to emergency rooms stayed for long, Gates said.

Of the estimated 90 to 100 people who fell ill, a Santa Monica, Calif., team accounted for about 50 cases and a Bakersfield, Calif., team accounted for some 25 cases, Gates said. He suspects some people may have caught the sickness before coming to the tournament, and spread it to others during long bus rides.

Nine of 100 teams from across the country were affected, Gates said, but it only struck a little more than 1 percent of 7,000 attendees. One game had to be forfeited because of sick players.

The tournament, organized by the Florida-based Sports Network International, draws teams from 17 states and as far as Panama. Players range in age from 6 to 15.

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Bob December 03 2013 at 7:16 PM

Ha Ha The kids can tackle each other, lay on top of each other in a pile , breathe in each others face at the line of scrimage...but they can't shake hands at the end of the game. Seems a little late to close the barn door at that point. Couldn't they just pass out hand wipes after the handshake ?

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Laura December 03 2013 at 7:08 PM

wash your hands!

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pullman1881 December 03 2013 at 6:10 PM

I've read that this virus has been floating around for years. When you read about large #s of people getting sick on cruise boats, it's usually Norovirus. I think I had it once - it lasted about 24 hours and I wanted to stick my head in the oven which would've been more fun.. I didn't come into contact before with anyone who was sick, so I have no idea where it came from.

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1 reply
Kate pullman1881 December 03 2013 at 7:49 PM

It has been (floating around for years) and you wouldn't necessarily know if you got it from any one person because of the incubation period. It's just like the common cold: you can catch it from someone who isn't showing symptoms yet, but they have it, and they can pass it on. By the time someone is overtly sick, they are often actually past the stage of being super contagious.

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Dr. Cal Harris December 03 2013 at 5:27 PM

A food-borne or touch-transmitted virus or bacteria should have been the first suspect since all of the kids were in close contact and may have even eatten at some identical facility.

The "flu-like" symptoms are common and seldom diagnosed properly. To complicate things, the symptoms will go away after two or three days if you treat them as if you have the "flu".

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Hi Deb December 03 2013 at 3:27 PM

My nephew came down with the same symptoms in late October when he and his family were staying at the Rio. Maybe a coincidence, but its also possible the virus is living in the Rio -- something the article doesn't seem to mention.

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valicarol December 03 2013 at 3:02 PM

Had the same symptoms after eating at the Rio buffet two years ago. Coincidence that they were staying there? Sick like I've never been before.

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soundchasr December 03 2013 at 10:04 PM

I used to watch and cringe as the local Le Crosse team members passed water squirt bottles around some of the kids put their mouths on the bottle.......
Also food handlers? How many illegals working in the food industry have had all their innoculations. Owners in the food industry should be arrested for hiring illegals.
I NEVER eat cold salads or from salad bars. I only buy whole mellons and wash them with soap and water before cutting them. If you ever say the dirty knife and old plywood used as a cutting board you would never buy cut up fruit again.....I know because I've been in the basements of many grocery,supermarkets and fruit stands.......

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rleutzin December 03 2013 at 7:49 PM

First of all, isn't it a bit absurd to find players ages 6-15 playing in a "Football" tournament away from their home area? Are these kids serving as entertainment for so called "adults"? Are the "adults" using the kids for fund-raising and "adult entertainment away from the playing fields". As Doctor Phil would say; "You need help". My goodness; haven't sports really gotten out of context. I'd like to know how a Six year old can benefit from playing Football geographically half way across the country.?

Here's hoping that everyone survived and that the story helps remind us (as we need from time to time) that a few adults, with good intentions; oftentimes don't use the brains they were blessed with when they were born.

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4 replies
neb1997 December 03 2013 at 3:26 PM

Guess your didn't read the article. It says that more than likely the virus was contracted before the people arrived in LV and then was spread during the long bus rides from their home bases to LV. Not everyone who got sick ate and/or stayed at the RIO.

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2 replies
mer96rm neb1997 December 03 2013 at 3:51 PM

YAY! Somone that still reads the articles.

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Dr. Cal Harris neb1997 December 03 2013 at 5:31 PM

Excellent points. With this many kids in very close contact, it could have been touch. Depending on the individual's immune system response, symptoms will vary from zero to sever.

If I were to bet, I would guess food-borne virus. I would interview 100% of them and ask if they ate anything as a group hours before the outbreak. I would include any adults that were escorting them.

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pafith December 03 2013 at 7:36 PM

Well, Duh !

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