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60 people fall ill with norovirus at Bay Area luxury hotel

60 people fall ill with norovirus at Bay Area luxury hotel
San Mateo County health officials confirm 60 people fell ill with norovirus while staying at a luxury hotel in Redwood City, Calif.

Public health officials say 60 people who fell ill after staying at a Bay Area luxury hotel two weeks ago contracted the norovirus -- a highly contagious virus that can lead to stomach pain, nausea and diarrhea.

San Mateo County health officials confirmed Friday that the guests and employees of the Hotel Sofitel in Redwood City became ill sometime after Oct. 28, and traced the illness to the highly contagious norovirus, which spreads after contact with an infected person or contaminated food and water.

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The first group of sick guests attended an NAACP conference that day at the hotel, according to the county's health system.

The county's Environmental Health Services inspected the hotel's food operations and found no violations that could have been linked to food-borne illness. Officials are also interviewing "numerous people, most of whom are no longer in the area."

Officials obtained several specimens from three separate events held at the hotel to determine if there was a common cause. The California Department of Public Health is testing the specimens, the results of which could take several weeks.

Meanwhile, the hotel resumed its food operations on Friday after disinfecting the property and training the staff.

After the outbreak, staff members with the county's Communicable Disease and Environmental Health Service began working with hotel management to implement infectious disease containment measures.

The measures include frequent and comprehensive cleaning of common areas, educating employees about the virus and posting additional signage reminding employees to wash their hands.

Any employees suffering from a stomach illness must also stay home until they have been symptom free for 72 hours.

For breaking news throughout California, follow @VeronicaRochaLA. She can be reached at veronica.rocha@latimes.com.

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