At least 11 support team members of the California delegation at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland have been stricken with a foodborne illness that appears to be norovirus, according to the Erie County Health Department. Two of them are pregnant and required hospitalization, according to local news reports.
The delegation is staying at the Kalahari Resorts in Sandusky, Ohio about an hour away from the convention. Those sickened have been asked to stay put to contain the spread of illness.
Norovirus is spread through person-to-person contact by consuming contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces where it can survive for up to two weeks. It takes just a small amount of the virus to make someone sick. The amount of virus that fits on the head of pin, as few as 18 particles, is enough to make 1,000 people sick, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Norovirus is hard to kill. It can resist many common disinfectants and hand sanitizers and survive temperatures below freezing and above 140°F.
About 20 million Americans are sickened by norovirus each year. Most of those illnesses occur between November and February. Most outbreaks, about 65 percent, happen at restaurants and originate from an infected food worker. The best way to prevent transmission is by washing hands properly.
Symptoms of norovirus, which usually develop 12 to 48 hours after exposure, are vomiting and diarrhea. When someone is sick, they can shed billions of viral particles in their stool and vomit. The virus is easily transmitted in shared spaces that are not carefully and thoroughly cleaned. A person with norovirus is most contagious while experiencing symptoms but may also infect others before symptoms start and after they resolve which is why public health workers urge sick restaurant employees to stay home if they are sick.