Health officials track source, victims of illness
April 23, 2003
RENO — Health officials now know what caused an outbreak of nausea and diarrhea among dozens of players, coaches and parents at a girls’ volleyball tournament in Reno, but they still don’t know what caused it.
Tests have confirmed the illness was caused by a norovirus, which is named after the “Norwalk virus” which caused an outbreak of gastroenteritis in Norwalk, Ohio, in 1968.
Health officials also say they apparently were mistaken in linking the outbreak to the Reno Hilton.
Bob Sack of the Washoe County District Health Department said 80 tournament participants reported flu-like symptoms. But only 30 or so they have interviewed so far stayed at the Hilton.
Guest rooms and ice machines were sanitized at the hotel.
At the same time, Washoe County health investigators checked the Reno-Sparks Convention Center, where 2,160 players on 360 teams from states throughout the West saw action.
Recommended Stories For You
Meanwhile, more reports are coming in which indicates the illness could extend beyond the convention center and the hotel, according to Tracie Douglas, spokeswoman for the Health Department’s environmental division.
Tim Maland, Reno Hilton president, said the resort is cooperating with the health department and working to ensure their guests’ health.
“We aren’t sure where it came from or how it’s being transmitted,” Maland said of the illness.
At the convention center, Washoe County health investigators checked the water system. Test results may be available this week.
About 30 people were examined Sunday at Washoe Medical Center, where they complained of nausea, vomiting and diarrhea dehydration. Two or three were kept overnight, hospital spokeswoman Judy Davis said.
Tournament organizers refused to blame the Reno Hilton or the convention center for the outbreak, saying a competitor might have spread the illness.
“We feel it was brought in,” said Donna Pochron, commissioner of the Northern California Volleyball Association, which stages three tournaments a year in Reno.
The next tournament in Reno is scheduled for June at the convention center and Pochron said she has no plans to cancel or reschedule the event.