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More than 140 Camp Fire evacuees at shelters have had norovirus, some ‘acutely ill’

Here’s the scene at the Walmart where Camp Fire victims have sought refuge

Many residents of Paradise – and nearby communities – displaced by the Camp Fire were still camping at the Walmart parking lot in Chico on Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018.
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Many residents of Paradise – and nearby communities – displaced by the Camp Fire were still camping at the Walmart parking lot in Chico on Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018.

More than 140 Camp Fire evacuees at four different shelters have had norovirus symptoms due to an outbreak, while 41 are currently experiencing symptoms, according to Butte County Public Health Department.

Twenty-one people staying at Neighborhood Church in Chico; 10 at Oroville Church of the Nazarene; 9 at Butte County Fairgrounds, and one at East Avenue Church in Chico had symptoms Thursday, according to a Butte County Public Health Department news release.

About 179 people are staying at Neighborhood Church; 352 are at Oroville Church; 142 are at Butte County Fairgrounds in Gridley, and 200 are at East Avenue Church in Chico, the release said.

At Nazarene Church, some people are staying inside and some are staying in their cars on the church property, said Lisa Almaguer, health department spokeswoman.

Norovirus is a highly contagious virus that can cause diarrhea, vomiting and other stomach problems, fever and body aches.

Shelter workers are separating sick people from healthy people, giving them a separate bathroom to use, and sanitizing constantly, Almaguer said.

The outbreak has spread since Wednesday when the health department said evacuees at two shelters were experiencing symptoms.

“The number of sick people is increasing every day,” the health department release said. “Twenty-five people have been to the hospital for medical support. Staff serving the shelters have also been sick.”

The Enloe Medical Center in Chico has seen several norovirus patients shelters that were “acutely ill,” said Susie Benson, manager of Infection Prevention and Control at the hospital.

Hospitalized patients are treated with fluids for dehydration, Benson said. The county’s medical teams are at the shelters evaluating patients to determine if they have norovirus or just noro-like symptoms, Benson said.

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