By: Erika Stanish/KDKA-TV News
CORAOPOLIS, Pa. (KDKA) - At least 200 people have reported they've become ill after several events at the Marriott Hotel in Coraopolis.
The Allegheny County Health Department confirmed to KDKA Friday it is investigating reports of gastrointestinal illnesses after three large events held at the facility on April 2 and April 3.
The Marriott told KDKA it did a deep cleaning at the hotel to cover both the norovirus and coronavirus, in addition to notifying the health department. A spokesperson said it will "continue with regular disinfection protocols given that norovirus is apparently prevalent in the county."
The first event affected was a bridal shower that was held at the hotel Saturday afternoon. The family told KDKA 70 people were sickened about 36 hours after being at the hotel.
Later Saturday night, a wedding was held there. Natalie and Armando McNary said of the 155 people in attendance, 80 have reported an illness so far.
"Everybody's just going to remember our wedding as the wedding that everybody got sick at," Natalie McNary said. "I mean, people were thinking they were on their deathbed. Like, that's how bad it got."
She said it didn't take long for family and friends to begin reporting an illness.
"Everyone was texting us saying they were throwing up constantly, using the bathroom all for 12 hours straight," McNary said.
People who attended a football banquet the next day had the same experience.
"People didn't go to work for days. People lost a lot and we lost a lot too," McNary said.
UPMC's medical director of infection prevention and hospital epidemiology said norovirus is very contagious and causes illness in your gastrointestinal tract.
"Vomiting is incredibly common. You can also have lower gastrointestinal symptoms, particularly diarrhea," Dr. Graham Snyder said.
He said after a person is exposed, it only takes a day or two before you'll start showing symptoms.
"It can contaminate food that they prepare, so that's typically how you acquire norovirus, either eating food that may be prepared by somebody who's contagious with it or having contact with the environment that is contaminated with norovirus," Snyder said.
He said the best thing a person can do if they have it is to stay home.
"In complement to that, appropriate hygiene in particular when using the bathroom. Wash hands, wash hands, wash hands," Snyder said.
He said it's also important to clean surfaces, particularly in the bathroom or other shared surfaces. He said the best cleaners to use are bleach and hydrogen peroxide wipes.
"Fortunately, it rarely requires people to be hospitalized and very rarely ends up in death," Snyder said.
"I just hope that the Marriott will make this right for us," Armando McNary said.
The health department's food safety program completed an investigation at the facility and continues to work with the epidemiology program as part of an ongoing investigation into the illnesses.
"If you believe you attended an event that may have been affected, please contact the Health Department at 412-687-2243. Health Department staff may attempt to contact attendees and facility staff associated with the events. Anyone suffering from any severe illness should contact their healthcare provider," the health department said.
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