Virus cases in Vegas
declining, officials say

They have reportedly been
going down since February

The number of new cases of the Norwalk virus, which has sickened visitors to some Las Vegas hotels since December, has declined in recent weeks, according to health officials in Clark County, Nev.

Between March 27 and April 2, the most recent time period available, 18 cases were reported, according to Jennifer Sizemore, a spokeswoman for the Clark County Health District.

She said 25 cases were reported the previous week, down from March 5 to 12 when 105 cases were reported.

"It's been declining since Feb. 16," Sizemore said yesterday. "During March, the numbers dropped considerably."

Since Dec. 3, when the outbreak was identified, and April 5, a total of 1,609 cases have been reported, Sizemore said.

Many of those who became sick visited or stayed at the California Hotel & Casino -- a popular spot for vacationers from Hawaii.

Rob Stillwell, a spokesman for Boyd Gaming Corp., which owns the California and several other Vegas properties, said, "When you think of the tens of thousands of people passing through our properties every week, the report of 14 or 18 cases is small."

Stillwell also said the hotel is reporting every case and not just clinically confirmed cases of the virus.

Symptoms of the virus include vomiting and/or diarrhea that can last up to three days.

Sizemore said that despite efforts of the health department and the federal Centers for Disease Control, the source of the outbreak probably will not be found.

"If it had been a food-borne illness, it could be tracked down," Sizemore said. "But this is passed person to person and we will probably never learn how or where it was introduced."

She said the outbreak will be considered over once the number of cases is down to about three or four a week for a month.


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