When you think back to your wedding day, it’s usually a bad sign when vomiting and diarrhea are among your first thoughts. Unfortunately that may be the case for Rebecca and Brodey Fitz-Gerald after their September 16 wedding reception at The Park in Melbourne, Australia, turned out to be quite a sick affair. And it was sick in a bad way with at least 80 people including the groom from this wedding Down Under coming down with gastroenteritis. In fact, the latter half of September hasn’t exactly been a walk in The Park for those attending events at that venue. A total of at least 233 people have suffered gastroenteritis over the course of five different events held there from September 13 through 24.
The first outbreak had occurred during a September 13 dinner held at The Park as part of the Australian and New Zealand Burn Association (ANZBA) conference, as Laura Grassby and Miriah Davis reported for Sky News Australia. This had left around 80 people ill. When the Fitz-Geralds caught wind of this outbreak, The Park had reportedly assured them that the venue would be safe because it had been “deep cleaned,” according to Sam Cucchiara reporting for A Current Affair. Cucchiara quoted the bride as saying, “We got a call from the venue three days before the wedding and they just explained we would be seeing it on the news, not to worry about it, the venue has been deep cleaned and they reassured me that it was all fine to go ahead.” Well, despite that deep cleaning, the four subsequent events ended being in deep you-know-what.
Cucchiara also quoted the groom as saying, “That sort of puts all of the good memories you had of the wedding in the back of your head because you’re trying to focus on making sure your guests are okay.”
There may have been unwanted guests at each of those events—namely norovirus, which is unaffectionately known as the “vomiting bug.” This nickname is a giveaway as to what this virus can cause you to do. The virus also commonly causes diarrhea and stomach cramping. And such symptoms can be very memorable in a bad way. The vomiting can be projectile and the diarrhea can be explosive. You may experience low-grade fevers, chills, headaches, and muscle aches as well. Such symptoms typically begin 12 hours to two days after the virus has gone down your pie hole.
The hole concern is that norovirus transmission primarily occurs via the fecal-oral route, which is a nice way of saying poop-to-mouth. The vomit and poop of someone infected with the virus tends to contain lots of norovirus particles. Such viruses are notoriously resistant to many standard cleaners. So even if you clean the heck out of vomit or poop contaminated surfaces, virus particles may still remain. And noroviruses are so contagious that even as few as 10 to 100 viral particles can get infected. If enough of these virus particles make it directly to your mouth or onto things that may go into your mouth, such as food or water, you could end up getting sick—very sick.
In order to get rid of norovirus, you really need to use either a chlorine bleach solution or use a product that has been deemed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as effective against norovirus. The bleach solution should have a concentration of 1,000 to 5,000 ppm, which would be five to 25 tablespoons of household bleach for each gallon of water.
In a statement printed in the A Current Affair piece, The Park wrote, “In conjunction with the City of Port Phillip Health Department we will continue to investigate an outbreak of illness occurring after events at The Park. Initial reports from the Department of Health suggest that the likely cause is norovirus, a common and highly contagious form of gastro.” The statement went on to say, “We had taken all precautionary health & safety measures ahead of the events on the weekend, however, as there have been reported illnesses from these events, we have decided to temporarily stop operating functions for the next two weeks until we have further information.” The statement added, “We have decided to close out of an abundance of caution until we have further information. Our closure is entirely voluntary and has not been requested by the Department of Health”
So for now, The Park is parking its event operations. The Park has also indicated that it will refund the Fitz-Geralds the $20,000 charges for their wedding reception and others refunds for the other four events affected by these gastro-trophic occurrences. After all, when you are sick in bed with bad gastroenteritis, you’ve already paid quite a price.
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Jessica Irvine is a tech enthusiast specializing in gadgets. From smart home devices to cutting-edge electronics, Jessica explores the world of consumer tech, offering readers comprehensive reviews, hands-on experiences, and expert insights into the coolest and most innovative gadgets on the market.