A gastrointestinal virus broke out in the Hotel Sofitel Redwood Shores in Redwood City, Calif., days after a dinner was held for the NAACP State Convention on Oct. 25.
According to the San Jose Mercury News, 12 people were transferred by ambulance to the hospital for dehydration after the dinner, while more guests found their way to the hospital on their own or rode the symptoms out at home. While the cause of the symptoms are still unknown at this time, Sofitel spokeswoman Sandra Duhamel said the current suspects are a foodborne illness or a norovirus, though environmental health investigators failed to find health violations linked to foodborne illnesses in the property.
KTVU San Francisco reported that a retained epidemiologist for Sofitel found that symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea, which recover in 24 to 48 hours, are consistent with a norovirus.
The hotel is at work disinfecting the property, and has not served food from its kitchen since Oct. 30. However, multiple events were held at the hotel between the NAACP dinner and the kitchen's closing, leading to more instances of illness. Roughly 40 guests at the hotel have reported gastrointestinal symptoms as of Monday, Nov. 3, county Health System spokeswoman Robyn Thaw told the San Mateo Daily Journal.
Lab results on samples taken from the property are expected to be concluded this week. If the norovirus is found to be the culprit it will be the second time for the Redwood City property. The San Mateo Daily Journal reported that in January 2008, 62 people fell ill after a Redwood City-San Mateo County Chamber of Commerce event, which was held at the property. Health officials traced the source of the illness to the norovirus, and a violation was placed on the hotel's record.
October was not kind to the hotel industry in terms of disease. While the norovirus is recent news, the big story has been the increased numbers of Ebola virus cases in the U.S. and abroad. In early October, a Briton died from Ebola in Macedonia hours after being admitted to a hospital in the country's capital, Skopje. Reuters reported that authorities sealed off the hotel he had been staying at in response.
New York City is coming off its first Ebola case in history, and Kathy Duffy, spokeswoman for New York City Marriott Hotels, told USA Today that it is still "too soon to tell" if the latest Ebola case will affect hotel bookings. "Our hotels continue to operate under… strict standards of cleanliness, which either meet or exceed public health department regulations," Duffy told USA today.