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NBA Teams Hit With Norovirus: CDC

April 16, 2011

Twenty-one NBA athletes from 13 teams that were sickened by a stomach virus outbreak last fall, were affected by the highly contagious norovirus, according to an investigation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Norovirus can cause diarrhea, vomiting and stomach pain. It often spreads through contaminated food or water, but can also move through dried vomit particles spread in the air, an investigator with the CDC told the Associated Press (AP).

Norovirus is generally known for spreading on cruise ships.The virus is airborne and can also be spread easily on a basketball court, but researchers said it was more likely spread by players socializing. No teams were named by the researchers, but media reports said at least four players from Orlando Magic were infected with the virus when the original story broke.

The CDC initiated the probe after reading reports from the media about player illnesses. Dr. Rishi Desai, one of the CDC investigators, said the NBA cooperated fully with the investigation.

While it’s not clear how the outbreak started, the strain was unusual enough that investigators believe players got it from each other rather than from family members or elsewhere, he told AP’s Mike Stobbe.

The CDC believes there may have been at least two instances in which an infected team passed the virus on to a healthy team. The CDC recommends that in the future, NBA players — or players from any organization — not participate in team activities when they are sick with a virus.

The results of the probe were publicly disclosed for the first time Friday at a CDC meeting in Atlanta.

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