A spokesperson with the Iowa Department of Public Health says an illness outbreak at the Special Olympics National Games in Ames this weekend ended up being a routine sickness. Nicole Peckumn says tests at the State Hygienic Lab were able to nail down the problem.
Peckum says two of the samples turned out to be norovirus, a common cause of viral gastroenteritis, otherwise known as “stomach flu”. She says norovirus outbreaks are normally associated with food and water, and have symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and cramps.
Peckum says the virus can become serious if the victim becomes dehydrated. With 50 to 55 people reporting the problem — Peckum says health officials needed to isolate the cause and alert everyone involved. She says it appears that no new cases happened over the weekend and all 50 states were notified of the norovirus problem.
Peckum says the Health Department was prepared to alert all 50 states after doing the same thing during this year’s mumps outbreak. Peckum says there are communications lines ready to let them contact all 50 states, and she says that’s what they did in the Special Olympics case.
Peckum says the 50 or so cases are the cases that were treated at the hospital. Peckum says many people might have chosen not to go to the doctor as they may’ve just felt they were having a bad day, so the total number of people exposed to the norovirus may never be known
Norovirus can be spread in food and water, but Peckum says they don’t know how this outbreak got started. Peckum says they haven’t narrowed down a source, and since the virus can be passed human to human, she says they may never find the source. Some three-thousand athletes participated in the first ever Special Olympics National Games in Ames last week.