60°F
weather icon Partly Cloudy

Norovirus suspected among Las Vegas football tournament participants

The highly contagious norovirus might be to blame for the illness of more than a dozen children and at least a half dozen adults at the Rio on Friday morning.

The virus is one of the more potent strains of what many people erroneously refer to as the stomach flu. It can be deadly among the elderly and children, particularly if they have weakened immune systems.

While the Southern Nevada Health District had not confirmed it was norovirus by Saturday afternoon, health authorities were treating it as such, handing out pamphlets to staff and guests at the off-Strip hotel-casino.

They also were admonishing those who have fallen sick to be sure and wash their hands, try to avoid public places, and clean up after themselves in areas believed to be infected — from door knobs to bath tubs to toilets to chairs to tables to anything else they conceivably may have touched while in town for the National Youth Football Championship.

The ages of the football players ranged from 7 to 12 years old.

“We’re talking about gastrointestinal symptoms,” said health district spokeswoman Jennifer Sizemore. “It’s what people refer to as the stomach flu, although the reality is that it’s a gastrointestinal virus; and to be on the safe side, that’s exactly how we’re treating it.”

Symptoms can include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, dizziness when standing up and worse — dehydration.

Those the virus strikes are urged to drink plenty of water. Antibiotics will not help because norovirus is not bacterial.

Clark County firefighters were called to the hotel-casino’s sixth floor just before 10 a.m. Friday. They found shuttle bus drivers who were delivering ill children to hospitals.

Fire Department Battalion Chief John Steinbeck said three fire engines, one firetruck and two ambulances responded.

“It’s not every day that we get a call concerning 21 patients on the sixth floor of a hotel,” he said. “And when we do, you can bet we’re going to be prepared for anything.”

Firefighters early on were treating the outbreak as a possible food-borne ailment.

The football tournament ended on Saturday.

Mhoon Land, of Los Angeles, said he’s thankful that his 12-year-old son of the same name got to play for the Santa Monica Vikings as defensive end, and that he didn’t become ill.

Land said at one point, he rushed a telephone charger over to University Medical Center to one of the sick parents.

“At was the least I could do,” he said as he stood inside the casino late Friday evening, recalling the scene earlier in the day. “I just want to make sure that I don’t get it.”

Sizemore said stool samples were taken from several patients, and that health authorities should know more in a week or two.

In the meantime, the health district will be working with the hotel staff to make sure staff is properly equipped with the right cleaning products, she said.

“There are special guidelines for cleaning up,” she said.

The corporate office of Caesears Entertainment, which operates the Rio, could not be reached for comment Saturday night.

Contact reporter Tom Ragan at tragan@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5512.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
Trump urges anti-abortion activists to stay united for 2020

President Donald Trump distanced himself from Alabama’s new abortion law by laying out differing personal views even as he urged anti-abortion activists to stay united heading into the 2020 election.

Across US, sex education re-examined amid #MeToo era

Lawmakers, educators and teens themselves are re-examining whether sex education should evolve to better address some of the issues raised by #MeToo

More companies handing over tech for China access, report says

The number of foreign companies that feel compelled to hand over technology in exchange for Chinese market access — an issue that sparked President Trump’s tariff fight — has doubled since two years ago, says a report.

Ukraine’s new leader sworn in, immediately dissolves parliament

Ukrainian TV star Volodymyr Zelenskiy has sought to capitalize on his huge popularity, dissolving the country’s parliament Monday minutes after he was sworn in as president.

Trump says Iran will face ‘end’ if it keeps threatening US

President Donald Trump warned Iran early on Monday not to threaten the United States again or it’ll face its “official end,” shortly after a rocket landed near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

S. Korea promises to send aid to North quickly, may send food

South Korea vowed Monday to move quickly on plans to provide $8 million worth of medical and nutritional aid for North Korean children while it also considers sending broader food aid.