While the world is growing ever concerned about the outbreak of the coronavirus, Louisiana residents are worried about an outbreak of the norovirus at a southwestern casino. 200 have suddenly fallen ill, according to state health officials.
According to a statement by the Louisiana Department of Health, they confirmed on February 6 that 200 patrons at the L’Auberge Casino in Lake Charles reported contracting the illness. Lake Charles is located about 200 miles to the west of New Orleans.
This is a highly contagious gastrointestinal illness that causes severe stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhea.
Dr. Lacey Cavanaugh, the department’s regional medical director found that several hundred people had attended events at the casino on the first weekend of February and that at least 200 have reported having symptoms of the virus.
Dr. Cavanaugh reported that a person can be contagious long before their symptoms appear, which can take as long as three weeks. Of most concern to the director is that there is little evidence where the illness initially appeared, but finding the source is not their primary concern at this point.
“How it started at this point doesn’t really matter anymore, because now we are getting transmission within the community,” the director stated. “So, however people picked it up in that setting they are now taking it home and spreading it from one family member to another family member to another family member, so that is the real message that we need to get out today.”
At this point, health officials are cautioning residents and those who were at the facility last weekend to be proactive in their behavior to fight the spread of the illness. They recommend staying at home if at all possible, washing hands thoroughly on a regular basis and disinfecting all potentially contaminated areas with bleach-based cleaners.
They also encourage anyone who has recently become ill to visit their website to take a survey to see if they may have contracted the illness. If so, they should contact the Department of Health or visit their local clinic or hospital.
Over 800 people have been reported to have died from the coronavirus to this point while tens of thousands are ill. The norovirus isn’t anywhere near as deadly, as its comparatively well known by doctors, but it’s still no picnic.
People should not contact the L’Auberge Casino as they will only direct callers to the Department of Health website.