Norovirus to blame for hotel sickness

WINTER vomiting disease was the cause of the illness suffered by dozens of guests at a dinner at a top Suffolk hotel, it was revealed today.The Hotel Elizabeth Orwell at Felixstowe was given the all-clear - and told the incident was not food-related.

WINTER vomiting disease was the cause of the illness suffered by dozens of guests at a dinner at a top Suffolk hotel, it was revealed today.

The Hotel Elizabeth Orwell at Felixstowe was given the all-clear - and told the incident was not food-related.

Environmental health officers have been carrying out extensive tests on samples from 75 guests and say it was the highly contagious Norovirus which spread rapidly between the guests, causing a severe bout of diarrhoea and vomiting.

The outbreak happened after the annual dinner of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers, attended by 200 people from the shipping industry from all over the country, with guest speaker former World Cup referee Graham Poll, who did not fall ill.


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Dr Sujeevani Munasinghe , from the Suffolk team of the Health Protection Unit (HPU), said: “We are continuing to investigate what could have caused this outbreak, but at present we have not identified a specific source for the illness.

“It could have been caused by a bacterium, a virus or a toxin.

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“Samples are being collected from those that are unwell to be analysed in the laboratory and further investigations are ongoing.

“The people affected have been given health advice to prevent any secondary cases.

“Good hygiene is important in preventing yourself or others from becoming unwell and this includes thorough hand washing especially after using the toilet and any contaminated surface should be thoroughly disinfected after an episode of illness.

“Food preparation should also be avoided until three days after symptoms have disappeared.

“Because it's caused by a virus there is no specific treatment apart from letting it run its course, so it's important to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration especially in the very young or elderly.

“It's also important that towels and flannels should not be shared with people who are unwell with vomiting and diarrhoea.”

Richard Cattermole, owner of Elizabeth Hotels Ltd, said the investigation's findings were good news for the hotel.

He said: “We have been told it was not food-related at all - we understand it was some kind of fever which appears to have spread very quickly among some of the people at the event.

“I understand there were 23 people affected and they were on two tables. Even one of our waiters got it and he didn't have anything to eat.”

He said regulations for dealing with food were extremely strict and the hotel was always open to a sudden and unannounced visit from health inspectors.

“We can be inspected at any time and I have no problem with that because that is the correct way for these things to be done, so the staff have to work to the highest standards all the time. The chef was devastated by the investigation but at least he knows it was nothing to do with the food,” said Mr Cattermole.

n. Were you affected by the illness? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

FASTFACTS: Norovirus

Norovirus is the most frequent cause of infectious gastroenteritis in England and Wales.

It is also known as the “winter vomiting disease” due to its seasonality and typical symptoms of vomiting and diarrhoea.

It has been estimated that Norovirus affects approximately one million people in the UK.

The symptoms usually last from 12 to 60 hours and will start with the sudden onset of nausea followed by projectile vomiting and diarrhoea.

Anyone who has gastro-intestinal illness should contact their GP or NHSDirect for further advice on 0845 46 47.

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