46 known ill in SnoCo connected to Feb. 4 cheerleading event in Everett
SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. – The Snohomish Health District continues its investigation of illness that struck participants in a statewide cheerleading competition on Feb. 4 at Comcast Arena in Everett. Several Snohomish County schools participated. So far 46 Snohomish County residents reported they were ill in connection with the event. Nearly 200 have reported ill statewide.
It appears that some athletes arrived at the event already ill. Janitorial crews were called to clean up vomit from the floors of a restroom and the adjacent concourse walkway prior to the event awards ceremony on Saturday night. Those sites are considered likely exposure sites for the cheer and dance teams.
Health District officials said that Comcast Arena is being cleaned for public use and entertainment under direction from Comcast management, and that management is cooperating fully with the illness investigation. On Health District recommendations, arena staff began cleaning and sanitizing the building and food preparation areas on Monday. The City of Everett also tested the drinking water supply to the arena. It proved to be safe, ruling out the public drinking water supply as a source of the causative disease organism.
Epidemiologists believe the illness was caused by a Norwalk-like virus because so many patients experienced severe vomiting and diarrhea in a short span of time, and because of the 24-48-hour duration of the illness. To reduce the spread of the illness, they advise close attention to thorough hand washing with hot water and soap, and immediate sanitizing of contaminated surfaces and clothing with bleach solution. People whose symptoms extend beyond 48 hours should beware of dehydration and should seek the care of a medical provider.
In addition to interviewing patients for symptoms and onset date, inspecting the facility, and testing the drinking water supply, public health officials seek to identify the illness’ origin through laboratory testing for disease organisms.
The state Department of Health is conducting an online survey of 2000 event participants and their families. State epidemiologists hope that information gathered in the survey and follow-up lab tests will lead to a common source of illness. The deadline for submitting survey information is Feb. 13.
For updates about issues affecting the health of the community, check the Snohomish Health District Web site, www.snohd.org. Call 425.339.5278 with questions about communicable diseases.
Established in 1959, the Snohomish Health District works for a safer and healthier community through disease prevention, health promotion, and protection from environmental threats.