Delegates at Medical Convention Fall Prey to Gastro Enteritis in US

by Medindia Content Team on  April 6, 2008 at 2:29 PM General Health News
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Delegates at Medical Convention Fall Prey to Gastro Enteritis in US
Indeed the world is becoming a global village. Diseases characteristic of the underdeveloped pockets have begun to haunt the rich West too.

Over 60 delegates attending a medical convention in Maryland in the US have come down with stomach flu.

Many of the victims came forward Friday, the day after attending the meeting Thursday at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Oxon Hill.

The illnesses were first noted when officials received calls about a dozen sick people Thursday evening at Reagan National Airport. The travelers had similar symptoms, including nausea, said Rob Yingling, spokesman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.

About 350 people attended the conference, and all but one of the 65 people who became ill have returned home, health officials said. The specific focus of the convention was unclear, news agency AP reports.

Staff members of the Prince George's County health department interviewed resort workers and inspected the center to determine what caused the illness. A private company has already started cleaning, health officials said.

Noroviruses cause the stomach flu and they have been responsible in recent years for sickening hundreds of passengers on cruise ships.

Noroviruses are estimated to cause 23 million cases of acute gastroenteritis (commonly called the "stomach flu") in the U.S. each year, and are the leading cause of gastroenteritis. Of viruses, only the common cold is reported more often than viral gastroenteritis (norovirus).

Noroviruses may cause more outbreaks of foodborne illness than all bacteria and parasites. They can cause extended outbreaks because of their high infectivity, persistence in the environment, resistance to common disinfectants, and difficulty in controlling their transmission through routine sanitary measures, says the website Norovirus Blog.

The virus is transmitted primarily through the fecal-oral route and fewer than 100 norovirus particles are said to be needed to cause infection. Transmission occurs either person-to-person or through contamination of food or water. Transmission can occur by touching surfaces or objects contaminated with norovirus and then placing that hand in your mouth; having direct contact with another person who is infected and showing symptoms; sharing foods or eating utensils with someone who is ill; exposure to aerosolized vomit; and consuming food contaminated by an infected food handler.

The virus is shed in large numbers in the vomit and stool of infected individuals, most commonly while they are ill. Some individuals may continue to shed norovirus up to two weeks after they have recovered from the illness.

Source: Medindia

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