Over 70 people have become ill with symptoms consistent with norovirus within the past couple of weeks in Huron, Ohio. The outbreak started with attendees at a health care management convention that ran from September 10th-13th at the Sawmill Creek Resort. Erie County health officials sent stool and food samples to the Ohio Department of Health laboratory, which confirmed the presence of norovirus in three of the stool samples. Some of the affected have been hospital workers who interacted with patients from the resort, as well as resort staff. People who stayed at the resort the weekend following the convention have also come down with similar symptoms, with norovirus the presumed cause.
Health officials have not directly linked the cause of the outbreak to the resort, which instituted extra precautions in the cleaning of surfaces and the preparation of food once the issue became known. The case is still evolving, and health officials are reviewing questionnaires from the convention attendees to help isolate the source of the disease.
Backtracking to find the cause of an outbreak is often difficult, and in the case of norovirus, all it takes is one infected individual shedding the virus to start a cascade of illness. Places where people gather are commonly associated with norovirus outbreaks, and hotels, cruise ships, hospitals, and schools have unfortunately had their share of such press. In the past few days, two cruise ships in the United Kingdom – the Black Watch and the Queen Mary 2 – have had a combined total of at least 138 people come down with norovirus-like symptoms (with the Black Watch representing the larger outbreak). The illness has not been positively identified as norovirus, but the cruise lines have been treating it as such, following guidelines for more aggressive disinfection and other containment measures.
Ohio news reports from earliest to most recent:
UPDATE: Contaminated food the suspected cause, Sept. 25 Sandusky Register
Sept. 23 WYKC News (NBC)
Sept. 20 WKYC News (NBC)
Sept. 18 Sandusky Register
Reports on the Black Watch and the Queen Mary 2:
Sept. 20 BBC News
Sept. 18 Daily Echo