Dozens sickened in Orland Park with possible norovirus

ORLAND PARK, Ill. (WLS) -- It appears norovirus, not food poisoning, sickened dozens of people at a banquet hall in southwest suburban Orland Park. Norovirus is especially common during the holidays when friends and families are together around food.

Those affected all attended a festive holiday party, warm and full of cheer, at Orland Chateau on Dec. 9. But 24 hours later, many of the guests became ill.

"I was laying on the bathroom floor. I was afraid to leave the bathroom because of severe, violent vomiting and other issues that entail staying in the bathroom," said Bonnie Piet Ryniec, one of those sickened.

Ryniec, who lives in Palos Hills, was among the guests at that part. Organizers Norbert Ziesla said he also got sick, and then his phone started ringing. He counted at least 100 ill guests, nearly half the people at the banquet hall. Some needed a doctor.

"We've got a 94-year-old gentleman that took sick. Some of these people have heart conditions, afraid to take their medicine because they'll just cough it up all up again," Ciesla said.

The Cook County Health Department has not determined the cause of the outbreak but said the illnesses are consistent with an outbreak of norovirus, which is spread through contaminated food and surfaces as well as person-to-person contact.

"It's super contagious, so if one person gets it, and either they're not properly washing their hands or they're touching things, then many other people will get it pretty quickly," said Dr. Steven Abdelmalak, Northwestern Immediate Care.

Doctors say to prevent norovirus you should wash your hands frequently, especially after using the bathroom and before preparing food.

Some of the ill guests are now feeling better, but still have concerns.

"Now I'm kind of worried about contagious things in my house or myself, and mixing with other people and having people over here," Ryniec said.

The owner of Orland Chateau declined an on-camera interview but said he's been cooperating with health officials and brought in a cleaning crew today for a deep-clean. The venue is open for business.
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