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Cause of illness at student conference undetermined

Posted February 14, 2010
Updated February 15, 2010

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— The cause of an illness that struck about 150 students attending a leadership conference at the downtown Raleigh Sheraton hotel Saturday still hasn't been determined.

Wake County Public Affairs Manager Sarah Williamson-Baker said Sunday that the county health department is investigating the outbreak. However, it could be days or weeks before investigators can pinpoint the cause with certainty, she said.

Williamson-Baker declined to say if investigators are leaning toward a particular cause, saying that would be just speculation at this point.

Forrest Perry of the YMCA said food poisoning could be a possibility. All the students attended a banquet at the Raleigh Convention Center Friday night, he said.

On Saturday morning, some attendees reported stomach discomfort, vomiting and diarrhea.

No other guests of the hotel reported any symptoms.

Officials with the Raleigh Convention Center said their kitchen was inspected and cleared of any illness Saturday. The facility was also given the go-ahead to have another 1,000 person meal Saturday evening.

Emergency personnel set up a triage center outside the hotel to isolate and treat students. Most of the sick students were able to return to conference activities, but five had to be taken to a local hospital.

About 1,000 students from across North Carolina were attending the four-day, annual Youth & Government conference, a leadership event for high school students sponsored by the YMCA.

Conference leaders said Saturday night that the parents of the sick students had been notified. Parents can call 1-800-834-2105 for more information.

10 Comments

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  • Travised Feb 15, 2010

    I thought food at first too, but then MOST would be showing symptoms within 24 hours. If the effected group that showed symptoms was all from one region, or went to a different event/building/means of transportation could have been why. Too soon to say anything.

    Anything WE type is speculation.

  • get over it people Feb 15, 2010

    Ok, so I had this same thing for like 5 days, fever, nausea, horrible stomach pains....my husband and daughter had it, then my sister and her daughters. I think there is something going around and it may be in our food and can be spread. I feel whatever it is it must be in our area. Check out the stories below. This is a little concerning....I haven't felt this bad in a while!

    http://www.newsobserver.com/news/health_science/story/333330.html

    http://www.wral.com/news/news_briefs/story/7038386/

  • VanC Feb 15, 2010

    If you actually read the article, you will see that the only place the kids ate together was the Convention Center banquet...not the hotel. No other people at the hotel got it, so it was NOT liekly the hotel. This is how rumors start, people half reading articles and jumping to conclusions.

    It seems that if it was food posioning, the interviews by the health dept would have clarified what they ate in common...which apparently it hasn't...so it does not seem likely it was food poisoining.

    More likely just a stomach bug that one of the attendees brought with them.

  • LuvLivingInCary Feb 15, 2010

    all it takes is one restaurant employee with noravirus. i'd doubt it was food poisioning...probably just cross contamination of some sort. it'll be just like the big seafood place in downtown raleigh where hundreds got sick. no one will place blame anywhere.

  • What if_I could Feb 15, 2010

    You have to love the media. I feel sorry for the food service and the Hotel. Immediately the reports were all the kids at the Hotel. Nothing else was speculated on what might have caused the illness. Winter time, H1N1, that number of kids in one place. Could one of the kids have been sick and so excited they did not want to miss this conference? Could one of the kids brought the sickness with them? We will never know. But we will always remember these kids ate at the hotel. It does put a second thought in my mind when I go to the hotel for meetings if I will eat the food there.

  • rdc Feb 15, 2010

    "norovirus"

  • beachlvr0804 Feb 15, 2010

    I was in Greenville SC and Charlotte NC over the weekend - so unless the conference shipped the food to the restaurants I ate kinda doubt the main source could be food poisoning! Had excrutiating headache that still hasn't gone away nor has the nausea!

  • timothycapwell Feb 15, 2010

    Food poisoning...duh.

  • beachlvr0804 Feb 15, 2010

    I had this same "stuff" this weekend....don't know where I picked it up. It can't be contained.... I haven't been this sick in YEARS!

  • ECU4lyf Feb 15, 2010

    it's amazing, we have the technology to track Mad Cow disease right down to the cow in Nowhere, USA but we can't find out what made these kids sick. I would want to know.