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Norovirus may be cause of illness affecting youth football teams

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Updated: 11/30/2013 2:36 pm
LAS VEGAS (KSNV -- While it continues to investigate, the Southern Nevada Health District believes a norovirus may be the cause of the illness that has sickened about 100 players, coaches and parents competing in a youth football tournament in Las Vegas this holiday weekend.

"Norovirus is the primary possible cause but we continue to investigate 24/7," Southern Nevada Health District spokesman Jorge Viote told News 3 this morning.

Justin Gates, the competition director for the tournament, said health officials told him that "pretty much all causes except a norovirus have been ruled unlikely."

"We worked with the health district and the Center for Disease Control all night on this and they are saying it is very likely that a player who was sick at home and came to Las Vegas on a bus likely was the cause and it spread to that team and then to other teams," Gates told News 3. "The best thing to do now is to manage it with proper hand washing and following sanitary rules. The virus has to run its course which amounts to a pretty rough 12 hours of cramps and health issues for those who get infected."

A fact sheet handed out Friday night to teams that attended a meeting at the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino says "noroviruses, also sometimes referred to as Norwalk-like viruses, are a group of viruses that cause vomitting and diarrhea."

Norovirus can easily spread from person to person through several means including eating food or drinking liquids that have been contaminated by the feces or vomit of an infected person, touching of surfaces contaminated with the virus and then placing parts of the hand in their mouth, ingesting particles of vomitus that have been aerosolized or direct contact with a sick person (such as caring for a sick individual or sharing food, water or eating utensils.

News 3 contacted teams from Santa Monica and Bakersfield, Calif., this morning and learned that more players and adults have become sick while others are improving. About 100 teams from across the country and some foreign countries are competing in the National Youth Football League Championships tournament in several age levels. The tourney is headquarters at the Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino, but several hotels are being used for the nearly 7,000 people in town for the tourney that ends Saturday.

"We had to forfeit after the first quarter today because players were off on the side with cramps and vomit," Kristiene Bulley of teams the Farwest Freedom League from Bakersfield. "We are headed home now to Bakersfield."

The Bakersfield team, numbering 40 adults and 19 players, stayed at the Golden Nugget while in Las Vegas.

"Players and adults started getting sick about 2 a.m. Friday after having Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday evening," Bulley said. "SOme are better today and some have come down with whatever it is. We had one more game later today but we decided the best thing to do was to go home."

Leila Sedighan, an official for the Santa Monica Vikings, said about 50 players and/or parents had become ill over the past two days. The team was playing a game at Faith Lutheran about 9:30 a.m. today and she said a few players had become sick during the game.


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