Hooligans for Heroes is a local organization composed of soccer supporters that raises funds and awareness for the Wounded Warrior Project. A team of supporters ran in last weekend's Tough Mudder race at the Michigan International Speedway.

Hooligans for Heroes is a local organization composed of soccer supporters that raises funds and awareness for the Wounded Warrior Project. A team of supporters ran in last weekend’s Tough Mudder race at the Michigan International Speedway. / Jackie Carline/Hooligans for Heroes
How to stop norovirus

Health officials say several steps can help stop the spread of norovirus.
■Wash your hands with soap and water, especially after using the toilet and changing diapers and always before eating, preparing or handling food. (Some illnesses can be found in vomit or stool before the onset of symptoms and can remain in your stool two weeks after symptoms subside.
■If you are sick, do not prepare food or care for others who are sick.
■Clean surfaces and disinfect contaminated surfaces with a chlorine bleach solution — about 5 to 25 tablespoons of household bleach for a gallon of water.
■Immediately wash clothes or linens that may be contaminated with vomit or stool.

State health officials  said they have confirmed norovirus as the source that sickened at least 200 people at last weekend’s Tough Mudder contest at Michigan International Speedway.

The calls had continued to climb over the July 4 holiday — filling up the voice mailbox at the Lenawee County Health Department and sending staff scrambling to set up a hotline for anyone who attended the event.

Officials want to hear from both those who were sickened and those who weren’t.

“We want to hear from anybody who was a participant, spectator or a worker. … If we know what the sick people participated in and what the well people participated in, we might be able to rule something out,” said Lenawee County Health Officer Patsy Bourgeois.

The new hotline, 517-264-5215, offers information about the suspected outbreak. It also asks callers to leave information so that health officials can send them an on-line survey about their experience.

Callers to the health department’s regular phone line clogged the voice mail over the holiday — traditionally a day off for public health workers. Health staff, who were monitoring calls remotely, realized the problem, Bourgeois said.

Health officials confirmed the highly contagious norovirus sickened some who competed in or attended the contest at MIS in Brooklyn, Mich., June 29-30. The virus, the most common cause of food-borne illness, is spread by an infected person in contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Norovirus causes an inflammation of the stomach and intestines and each year sickens about 21 million in the U.S., contributing to about 70,000 hospitalizations and 800 deaths, according to the CDC.

Tough Mudder events involve lengthy “hard core” obstacle courses designed “to test all-around strength, stamina, mental grit and camaraderie,” according to the Tough Mudder website.

But that could mean contact with bodily fluids on the obstacle course, health officials said.

This was like one of my worst flus,” said Jeff Rohlfing, creative director at Detroit-based George P. Johnson marketing company and a Tough Mudder competitor.

Three of four teammates, he said, had similar symptoms.

Health officials haven’t tracked down the source yet, but Rohlfing noted that heavy rains gushed water around portable restrooms and throughout the course last weekend.

“The trails were absolutely soup from all the rain,” he said.

It won’t dissuade him from the Tough Mudder next year though, Rohlfing said: “This was one of those fluke things.”

Mudder officials have been working with state health officials to determine the cause of the virus contamination, said Angela Minicuci, spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Community Health.

Results of stool samples sent to the state lab most likely will be available next week, Minicuci said


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