Published Friday, Nov. 29, 2013 | 12:07 p.m.
Updated Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013 | 12:47 p.m.
As many as 100 people visiting the Rio for a youth football tournament fell ill with a stomach virus this weekend, event organizers said.
News of the outbreak emerged early Friday when the Clark County Fire Department reported that 13 children and five adults were taken to area hospitals via casino shuttles after showing flu-like symptoms that included nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Deputy Fire Chief Fernandez Leary said the hospitalized children were between the ages of 7 and 9 and were part of a football team that was visiting from Santa Monica, Calif., for the National Youth Football Championships. The event, headquartered at the Rio, started Wednesday and ends today.
The group has since been released and is doing fine, said Justin Gates, competition director for Sports Network International, which oversees the Las Vegas event.
“The hospital checked them and told them they had a stomach virus and to go home and drink fluids and rest,” Gates said. “It likely made the parents feel better to hear a doctor say it.”
Gates estimated that 90 to 100 people likely became sick during the tournament, which was attended by about 7,000. Attendees who were staying at other casinos also became sick, Gates said.
Messages left with Caesars Entertainment, which operates the Rio, were not returned this weekend.
Officials have not determined what caused the group to fall ill, but Gates guessed that a stomach virus spread while teams were traveling to Las Vegas or shortly after arriving.
Jorge Viote, a spokesman for the Southern Nevada Health District, said the department plans to conduct an investigation but that he had no additional information this weekend.
"We are looking into it," Viote said.
Carnival lasts all year at the Rio. With a float occasionally passing overhead and dropping beads while feathered dancers fire up the gamblers below, the Rio tries to keep its 120,000-square foot casino jumping with excitement. Special Brazilian mixed-drinks are also served throughout the casino. The hotel suites tend to be larger than similar priced rooms on the Strip and many offer excellent views with floor to ceiling windows.
The Rio offers some quality shows like "Penn & Teller" and "Chippendales." Many come to the Rio for the nightlife at the VooDoo Lounge, located on the 51st floor, or McFadden's Irish Pub on the casino level.
Others come for a bit relaxation at the Rio Spa or pool area and still others come to shop at the hotel's 60,000 square feet of shops. In each of these endeavors, the Rio attempts to make the experience a bit more fun and spontaneous.
The Rio also offers guests a variety of dining choices from all-American food at the All-American Bar & Grille to Gaylord India Restaurant for something a little spicier and even Carnival World Buffet for the indecisive.