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Possible norovirus spreads during Le Roy wedding

Published 9:59am Friday, December 7, 2012

The bride, groom, and many guests from a Saturday wedding in Le Roy met an unpleasant surprise not long after the happy occasion.

An outbreak of what health officials think is norovirus has swept through a group of people in the Le Roy area, many of whom attended the event at Travel Lanes Supper Club. While research is still being done, the bride’s mother, Marcie Hall, said it did not originate at the reception.

“It didn’t happen because of the wedding; it was brought into the wedding,” she said.

Most of Hall’s family caught it, including extended family members who were unable to make the wedding. The effects of the illness take a while to surface, making it difficult to determine when a person contracted it.

“I actually didn’t get sick until Monday,” Hall said. “Other people felt it early Sunday night.”

Key to fending off the effects of the norovirus is staying hydrated, so all those infected have been advised to drink a lot of liquids. Hall was still getting over the illness Thursday afternoon.

“Us middle-aged people know how to drink a lot of Gatorade; that’s what I’m doing,” she laughed.

The bride and groom have each gotten sick since the wedding, though Hall was relieved to say their honeymoon wasn’t ruined.

“Thank God they’re not going until later in the winter,” she said.

Jim Gronwoldt, owner of Travel Lanes, said the guests didn’t show any sign of being unwell during the reception.

“To my knowledge, nobody was sick at the time of the wedding,” he said, adding he agrees the illness didn’t originate at Travel Lanes. He said he’ll receive a full report once research on the outbreak is complete.

The Minnesota Department of Health did not receive reports about the outbreak until Tuesday and started its own investigation on Wednesday. At this point, MDH has not confirmed the outbreak was a norovirus.

Health officials have not yet determined when the outbreak happened. MDH spokesperson Doug Schultz said apart from the wedding reception that hosted about 400 people, a groom’s dinner was held the night before, and another family event happened about a week before.

“All of those may be clues as to what’s going on,” Schultz said.

Schultz added MDH officials are trying to interview people who got sick.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the norovirus is very contagious and can spread via an infected person, contaminated food or water or contact with contaminated surfaces. It typically shows up one to two days after a person contracts it.

“Norovirus can spread rapidly when you have a lot of people in the same room, sharing food or close together,” Shultz said. “We don’t know in this particular instance how it spread.”

Contact with door knobs or serving utensils can also spread the virus if people then put their hands to their mouths. The virus needs to be ingested for it to infect them.

Norovirus, which can be a form of food poisoning, can be serious, especially for young children and older adults, and common symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and stomach pain. Each year, the norovirus causes about 21 million illnesses and contributes to 70,000 hospitalizations and 800 deaths in the U.S.

 — Matt Peterson contributed to this report.