Norovirus scare confirmed at resort near RNC

11 cases being investigated among GOP staffers
Posted at 11:32 AM, Jul 19, 2016

Public health officials are investigating a possible norovirus breakout at a resort in northern Ohio that could have afflicted several attendees of the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

The Erie County (Ohio), Health Department confirmed 11 people who are part of the RNC have what may be the norovirus. They are staying at the Kalahari Resorts in Sandusky.

The health department said the team members, who are planners for the California delegation, are confined to their rooms. Two of the victims are pregnant and went to the hospital. They have since returned to the resort.

All of the members are from California and are part of the state RNC Logistical Support Team, officials said.

"Not all of them have even eaten the same foods so we’re quite certain it came from contact from the plane," said Peter Schade, the Erie County Health Commissioner.

Officials said the team members arrived in town on Thursday. The health department believes one or more people brought the virus with them. 

"Thursday night, one person became ill, then Friday a couple of more," he added.

Authorities said fecal samples have been taken from the ill individuals and are being sent to Columbus for testing. Results should be available on Wednesday regarding a diagnosis.

"Norovirus can happen anywhere, at the finest hotel in the world or in the city streets somewhere," said Schade.

Schade's concern is the potential spreading of the highly contagious virus, which is transmitted by people, food, water or touching contaminated surfaces. The symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain and nausea.

"Folks usually with noro-type viruses stay ill for two to three days but the danger of it is what we call a secondary transmission," he added. "They start to feel better after two or three days, and they get up and around but they are still a carrier. So we see a secondary transmission."

Kalahari Resorts remains open. Staff declined an interview but sent this statement:

"Several staff members of the Republican delegation have fallen ill due to what officials believe was an illness from a member of the delegation that traveled from California. In preparation for the Republican California Delegates’ stay, Kalahari Resorts and Conventions worked diligently with government officials to ensure we exceeded all health and sanitation requirements and protocols. This includes passing extensive testing prior to, and continuing through, the delegation’s visit. As always, the safety and well-being of our guests is our top priority and we are fully cooperating with all necessary officials."

No delegates have reported symptomatic at this time.

About 125 California delegates visited the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton on Tuesday. Earlier in the day, they were warned about norovirus, which is highly contagious.

"They just recommended we make sure we wash our hands and put sanitizer on and just be cautious," said Elizabeth Ritchie, one of the delegates.