Norovirus sickens dozens at Spokane's House of Charity

Norovirus sickens dozens at Spokane's House of Charity

SPOKANE, Wash. - The number of people infected with the norovirus at the House of Charity in downtown Spokane has increased. Officials tell KXLY 4 News the situation has stabilized, but several people at the Union Gospel Mission are now suffering from the sickness.

This all started Friday night and the number of people sick at the House of Charity has increased from 60 to 64; that is because the incubation period of the illness sometimes takes a few days to set in.

"It's transmitted through the fecal oral route or contact with fecal matter. We do believe the outbreak may be stabilizing, however, norovirus is very contagious and communicable outbreaks can be unpredictable," said epidemiologist, Anna Halloran.

Halloran said symptoms typically subside within three days, but guests suffering from the virus can remain contagious even after they feel better.

House of Charity guests have been quarantined for the last four days outside in white tents. CEO of Catholic Charities, Rob McCann, said the tents have heaters for cold and rainy nights.

"A lot of our patrons are telling us they are feeling better, they feel much better, so good things happening," McCann said.

Meanwhile, at Union Gospel Mission, half a dozen people have gotten sick, but none of the cases have been confirmed to be the norovirus.

"We have quarantined them to a special room and set them aside so that the flu doesn't spread," Phil Altmeyer, Executive Director of Union Gospel Mission, said.

Spokane Regional Health HAZMAT teams inspected the mission on Saturday. They have disinfected the chapel thoroughly as a precaution.

"It hasn't impacted us and we are grateful for that and unfortunate for the House of Charity and we're both here to serve the poor and that makes it difficult," Altmeyer said.

Health officials say the norovirus is contained to the House of Charity, and the public should not be concerned. They want to remind the public to always wash your hands, and cough in your elbow, especially as we head into cold and flu season

As far as how long the tents are kept up outside of the House of Charity, they are going on a day to day basis.