Louisiana casino responds to norovirus outbreak that left hundreds sick

The agency received at least 200 surveys from people self-reporting virus symptoms

A Louisiana casino at the center of a possible norovirus outbreak is reminding guests and employees to take extra safety precautions after hundreds of people fell ill, prompting an investigation by state health officials.

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"L’Auberge Lake Charles has stringent sanitation procedures in place. In addition, we are reminding guests and team members to regularly wash their hands and take other health safety precautions," the Casino's general manager, Michael Pendergast, told FOX Business in an emailed statement Monday.

On Thursday, the Louisiana Department of Health confirmed that at least 200 illnesses reported at L’Auberge Casino in Lake Charles during the first weekend in February were norovirus-related, according to multiple news outlets. Lake Charles is about 200 miles west of New Orleans.

Norovirus is a highly contagious type of gastrointestinal illness or stomach virus that is spread easily from person to person, according to the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention.

Pendergast said the comfort and safety of its guests and team members are always of "paramount concern" and the casino will be monitoring the situation closely.

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The agency’s regional medical director Dr. Lacey Cavanaugh said there were several hundred people at the casino’s most recent events. She said the agency has received at least 200 surveys from people self-reporting virus symptoms.

Cavanaugh said people are contagious when they have symptoms and sometimes up to three weeks after the symptoms are gone. It’s unclear how the virus initially spread, but Cavanaugh said that it doesn’t matter at this point.

“How it started at this point doesn’t really matter anymore, because now we are getting transmission within the community,” she said. “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.”

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To stop the spread, officials said people should stay home, wash their hands thoroughly and disinfect areas with bleach-based household cleaners.

The Department of Health said anyone who has become ill with any of the norovirus symptoms should complete a survey online.

The casino's website directs those to the Louisiana Department of Health's advisory for more details regarding possible norovirus outbreak in Calcasieu and Vernon Parishes, which includes the Lake Charles Area.

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