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Saturday, May 10, 2008

70 people affected from virus outbreak in San Francisco

The Moscone Center in San Francisco hosted a weeklong JavaOne Conference where 3 attendees and at least 67 staff workers became infected with a norovirus, a type of medical virus which easily spreads by touching dirty surfaces.
Friday it was announced that between April 30 and May 8, 2008, 70 people became ill with a highly contagious norovirus, which is often and wrongly thought to be a stomach flu and can cause symptoms that include vomiting, diarrhea, cramps, low-grade fever and aches. The virus is easily transmitted through contact and the hands must be carefully washed in order to avoid contamination.

Officials have not identified the cause of the virus outbreak but Jim Soos, assistant director of policy and planning at the San Francisco Department of Public Health says that the norovirus is passed when an infected person spreads microbes either by preparing food or sharing plates or utensils.

Noroviruses make up the second-most-common illness in the United States, after the common cold. Outbreaks generally show up where lots of people share spaces, including cruise ships, summer camps, college dormitories and nursing homes.

A spokesman for The Moscone Center assures the public that the entire facility had been fully cleaned, disinfected and inspected and an event that is planned for next week will continue as scheduled. He concludes his statement with, "We're saying that healthy people should be careful, wash their hands a lot, kind of the standard public health practices."

The last outbreak of a Norovirus was reported in early April, when 65 people suffered from from a Norovirus outbreak at medical conference in Maryland.

The fact is it only takes about 100 particles to make someone sick and since it is highly contagious, when people get together at conferences and such, it can spread like wildfire.