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Norovirus suspected cause of party sickness

A stomach virus disrupted a recent children’s party at Magnum Power Force Gym’s Kids’ Zone.

Fifteen guests became ill after the party, held at the Hamilton play centre on Saturday afternoon.

“In the party there was one young kid who we understand had just come out of the hospital with this virus,” said company spokeswoman Karen Magnum.

“On Monday, the Health Department came by and told us that 15 people had gotten sick.”

A Health Department spokeswoman said the illness is believed to be a highly contagious virus called a norovirus, sometimes called the “winter vomiting bug”. Its symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal pain.

“From what we have been told, the Health Department is trying to track this down. It’s going all around the schools,” Ms Magnum said.

Approximately 30 children attended the party on Saturday afternoon.

Mrs Magnum said they voluntarily shut the Kids’ Zone for two days as a safety precaution, and completely disinfected the area.

“We cleaned every ball in the ball pit. Every single ball,” she said. “We have done everything we could to kill this virus here.”

In an official statement, the Health Department said the virus is usually contracted in areas of close contact, such as nursery schools, long-term care facilities, schools and restaurants.

“Protection is relatively easy, but requires diligence. Strict hand washing with warm water and soap remains the number one way to avoid Norovirus,” the spokeswoman said.

“Alcohol-based hand sanitisers are not effective against norovirus because the virus particle itself has a protective structure around it and the virus particles may remain viable and on the skin.

“Because of the ease with which norovirus can be spread to other people, ill food handlers must be excluded from their work establishment, even if norovirus is only suspected.

“Once excluded, they should remain away for 48 hours from the cessation of symptoms. Sick staff and pupils should not return to school or nursery until they have been free of symptoms for 48 hours.”

One parent wrote to

The Royal Gazette saying: “We were one of the ones at that party. My five-year-old son got very sick and now my husband has caught it and it has knocked him out cold.

“We also have a newborn baby in the house and are praying he does not get it!”

The grandmother of another child who attended wrote: “My grandson attended the birthday party at Magnum’s Kids’ Zone on Saturday. He became very ill that night, vomiting. I am aware that several other of the attendees became ill also.

“It could be a coincidence that they all came down with the same thing but seems strange.

“I’m relieved that they are taking measures to ensure the safety and cleanliness of the area. It’s a great place for a party and I would hate to see it close.”

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Published February 10, 2012 at 9:00 am (Updated February 10, 2012 at 8:59 am)

Norovirus suspected cause of party sickness

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