At least 33 people became ill after attending the Pueblo Community Health Center’s annual luncheon on Tuesday, according to health officials in Pueblo, Colo.
“We don’t know what it is yet,” said Sarah Joseph, a spokeswoman for the Pueblo City-County Health Department. Health officials are trying determine whether the source was environmental or foodborne, she said.
Those who became ill reported gastrointestinal symptoms including diarrhea and abdominal cramping that lasted for 24 hours. So far, 77 of the 80 attendees have been interviewed and samples from those who became ill have been sent to the state lab in Denver, said Joseph. “We’re hoping to know more next week.”
Those symptoms could be caused by a number of sources including Norovirus, an extremely contagious virus that can be transmitted from direct contact with a sick individual or by touching food or surfaces that person has touched, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The elderly and small children are most at risk.
Norovirus is the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis and the most common cause of foodborne-disease outbreaks in the United States, according to the CDC. Each year, 21 million Americans are sickened by Norovirus. Of those, 70,000 require hospitalization and 800 die.