Published On: Tue, Feb 9th, 2010

Harrah’s Cherokee norovirus outbreak over

Updated Feb. 9

SUBMITTED By JACKSON COUNTY DPH

The Jackson County Department of Health (JCDPH), in conjunction with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Health and Medical Division, announced on Monday, Feb. 8 that the norovirus outbreak associated with Harrah’s Cherokee Casino & Hotel is over.

“Norovirus outbreaks are hard to fight,” said Paula Carden, director of JCDPH.  “I am grateful for Harrah’s cooperation and the hard work of their staff and ours in getting this under control.  We will remain vigilant to make sure this outbreak stays over.  I urge everyone to help by continuing to wash their hands frequently and well.”

The outbreak was detected Jan. 12, and has affected approximately 405 staff and patrons of the Casino and Hotel.  Public Health officials were not able to determine the source of the outbreak. 

Darold Londo, general manager of Harrah’s Cherokee Casino & Hotel, stated, “We are extremely pleased that the Jackson County Health Department has announced that the norovirus outbreak here has ended.  I want to thank the Jackson County Health Department for its guidance and cooperation in addressing the outbreak, and I extend special thanks to our guests who remained loyal throughout the period.”

Londo continued, “Harrah’s Cherokee remains committed to providing a fun and exciting atmosphere for our guests and a safe, working environment for our employees.”

Information from JCDPH states, “Harrah’s Cherokee Casino & Hotel has worked diligently, in cooperation with JCDPH, to stop this outbreak.  Because some persons who are affected may not report their symptoms, and because norovirus is difficult to eradicate, it will be very important to continue a high level of vigilance and careful handwashing and cleaning.  Harrah’s and the JCDPH will continue to monitor for norovirus symptoms among employees and patrons of the Casino & Hotel, as well as in the community.”

Norovirus causes diarrhea and/or vomiting, sometimes with abdominal pain, cramping, fever, muscle aches or headache.  Symptoms usually begin 24-48 hours after exposure to norovirus and resolve on their own after 24-48 hours.  There is no specific medication to take, and no vaccine exists.  Norovirus is highly contagious and spreads by person-to-person contact, contact with stool or vomit of an ill person, drinking contaminated water, eating contaminated food, or by touching objects that have been in contact with an ill person.  Norovirus outbreaks can spread quickly and last for weeks.

JCDPH related, “Outbreaks such as this one are usually determined to be over if no new cases have been detected after a predetermined period of time.  This is to make it more likely that transmission of the cause has been interrupted.  Often, it is not possible to trace this type of outbreak to a single cause, but measures to stop spread are the same regardless of cause.

Careful handwashing with soap and water is one of the most important ways to prevent norovirus spread according to JCDPH.

One Feather staff contributed to this report.

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