A meeting of union delegates at Westin’s historic Bonaventure Hotel in downtown Los Angeles last month ended with more than two dozen attendees falling ill to an intestinal illness, health officials said.
The conference took place from Aug. 21 to 24 and, the following day, some attendees began complaining of symptoms, according to the Alameda County Public Health Department, which was the first to report the outbreak.
The patients were diagnosed with Shigella, a common intestinal illness that infects nearly half a million people in the U.S. each year. Symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea and fever.
Ultimately, 32 of the more than 300 conference attendees reported symptoms, including several who had to be hospitalized, according to the Los Angeles Times.
One attendee, Terri McDonald, has filed a lawsuit against the hotel. She told the L.A. Times that she was so weak that she couldn’t stand before going to the hospital, and doctors said her kidneys were failing due to sepsis.
“They were rushing to save my life,” she said.
A spokesperson for the Bonaventure said hotel staff “fully cooperated” with the public health investigation but would otherwise not comment on the lawsuit.
According to the CDC, Shigella, or shigellosis, is easily transmissible from person to person through small traces of fecal matter from an infected person. This can occur after changing the diaper of a sick child or caring for an infected person, touching a contaminated surface or swallowing contaminated food or water.
It is most common among young children.
The CDC recommends those with symptoms should drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. If you have bloody diarrhea, do not use anti-diarrheal medicine such as Imodium or Lomotil, which can exacerbate symptoms. Those in extreme pain or whose symptoms last more than three days should call a doctor.