Dozens hit by illness at Sawmill convention

Erie County Health Department officials are still running tests and going through questionnaires in an effort to learn what made dozens of people sick at a conference of health workers last week at Sawmill Creek Resort in Huron.
Tom Jackson
Sep 18, 2013


At last count, 44 people reported becoming sick during a Creative Health Care Management convention that drew about 300 people Tuesday through Friday to Sawmill Creek.

The count on the number of sick remains fluid, said Bob England, environmental health director for the Erie County Health Department.

“Tomorrow it may be more. By the end of the day, it may be less,” he said.

Testing of stool samples and samples of food served at the conference is ongoing, and inspectors have looked at food preparation at Sawmill Creek, England said.    In addition, almost 100 questionnaires were collected from attendees, said Pete Schade, Erie County’s health commissioner.

"I’ve got four stacks of different surveys we went through,” he said.

Sawmill Creek has been “very cooperative” during the probe, England said.

The sudden onset of the illnesses led to the theory that the illness might have been caused by a norovirus, the health officials said. Noroviruses, also known as the “Norwalk virus,” cause vomiting, diarrhea, nausea and stomach pain. The name is derived from an outbreak that occurred in Norwalk, Ohio, in 1968. One sample came back positive for norovirus.

“We can’t say it’s a confirmed outbreak until we have another one,” Schade said.

He said that to prevent the spread of noroviruses (and many other diseases) it’s important for people to wash their hands thoroughly.

England said officials are still trying to identify the illness and figure out where it came from. It’s not known, for example, whether the illnesses could have come from one of the participants at the conference arriving sick and spreading it to others.

Inspections so far have not established, either, that the illness came from food served at Sawmill Creek, England said.

“We didn’t identify any existing or ongoing issues that would have created violations in our code,” England said. “It’s an ongoing investigation. We can’t draw any conclusions yet.”


Capt. Ford

Besides employees the guests must wash also.....
so tired of witnessing my gender leave the room without washing.


Wash those hands after number two. Don't shake hands that have feces on them.
"It is caused by a virus (like the common cold) and spreads very easily. It can be passed from one person to another by:"

•hands that are not washed after using the toilet

"conference of health workers"

Imagine that!

Peninsula Pundit

Either stop peeing on your fingers or assuming others do.
Seems like you are paying an unusual amount of attention to others in the restroom.
That level of attention to others is unwelcome in a men's restroom and might be mis-interpreted, by the way.
Also, do not sit in your car at the rest area watching to assure everyone is using their seatbelt before driving off.


I went to a luncheon there about a year ago. There was a spider on my plate. Just sayin'.


A stomach virus has been going around Huron for about the last three weeks. It seems to be very contagious. This outbreak probably has nothing to do with Sawmill per say, but rather the virus that has been going through town infecting everyone from kids to the elderly. I could be wrong, I just know it's been a bad one and started right after school started. I personally know three people that have had it.

Simple Enough II

Wow a commisioner and a environmental health director, talk about bloated government agencies.


Sorry.........I believe the virus came from the mass amount of people that came from around the country, and from far away countries. The workers ate the same food, and they did not get ill. None of the employees got sick at all. Could be 400 plus people in the same area for a week spreading it around among themselves


Rather ironic that health conference attendees get sick at a health conference but maybe they should have left a tip. Spiders don't spread illness that I know of and spiders are everywhere around this area so I can't blame Sawmill for a stray spider. I imagine you'd rather have the bug spray all over your food?


Wash your hands after you use the bathroom! Stop coughing or sneezing into you hands!

Stop dabbing your drippy, runny nose with a sopping wet Kleenex and touching other people's stuff!

Wash YOUR hands!



peninsula-pundit it is pretty obvious when people do not wash their hands in a PUBLIC restroom. You are obviously one who doesn't. Any not washing your hands can also be misinterpreted by the way!!! Duh!


Many guys are pigs when it comes to sanitation & restrooms. Time will tell. Remember the Mexican Restaurant in Norwalk a few years ago? Poopy hands.