Mohonk Mountain House is expected to reopen this Friday, Feb. 14 after a week of being closed following an outbreak of norovirus.
According to an Associated Press wire report, “several hundred guests and staff” fell ill on Jan. 31. Mohonk eventually had to hire a disaster-remediation company — BMS Cat — to disinfect the hotel.
Norovirus, also known as stomach flu, is a gastrointestinal illness that’s easily spread. People catch it through direct person-to-person contact and also by contacting contaminated surfaces.
The story first broke in the Middletown-based daily, the Times Herald-Record. That paper reported on an e-mail sent out by Mohonk Mountain House president Bert Smiley.
Smiley called the decision to close an “extreme measure,” but added that the illness was “very persistent” among guests and workers.
State and county health officials investigated the issue last week. On Monday, an official with the New York State Department of Health confirmed that the bug was the norovirus.
While not that dangerous to healthy adults, norovirus can pose problems for the elderly, children and people with compromised immune systems.
On Jan. 30 — about the same time as the outbreak first started being reported — one unhappy customer posted a review to TripAdvisor saying that they’d come down with norovirus and that the person staying with them had to be hospitalized due to dehydration.
Nina Smiley, the resort’s director of marketing, wrote a response on the site saying that “every possible measure is taken to ensure the safety and well-being of our guests.”
Norovirus has also been a scourge of the luxury cruise ship industry. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, most of 2013’s cruise ship outbreaks were norovirus.
While it seems extreme, Mohonk probably made the right call last week. Norovirus infections are hard to eliminate because infected surfaces can continue to spread the virus — and it isn’t killed by normal alcohol sanitizers.
Mohonk Mountain House is celebrating its 145 anniversary this year.