December 1, 2015

Study Follows Norovirus from Irrigation Water to Produce

A University of Florida researcher is conducting a two-year study of how norovirus travels through irrigation water and onto produce. Dr. Melissa K. Jones, a research assistant professor with the University of Florida, Gainesville, will lead the team. Highly contagious norovirus is responsible for about 40 percent of all food poisoning outbreaks and the leading cause of diarrheal disease in the U.S. "We're kind of on the leading edge of it," said Jones, who will present her findings during the CPS Produce Research Symposium, June 23 - 24, in Atlanta.  "One of the things we're learning about norovirus is they have a really high presence in the environment.  And we've known for a long time that they are very, very stable and can survive for years in the water and the soil." The … [Read more...]

(Not-So) Fun Facts About Norovirus, The Leading Source of Food Poisoning Outbreaks in America

Two outbreaks this week are a good example of why norovirus is the leading cause of food poisoning outbreaks in the U.S. One was at a Ground Round restaurant in Minnesota, the other was at an elementary school in Indiana. Norovirus is highly contagious virus that affects about 20 million Americans each year. The amount of virus that fits on the head of pin, as few as 18 particles, is enough to make 1,000 people sick, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which has compiled a norovirus fact sheet with the following information. Although it is sometimes called "the cruise ship virus," only about 1 percent of norovirus outbreaks take place on cruise ships. Most, about 65 percent, happen at restaurants and originate from an infected food worker. Symptoms … [Read more...]

In Washington State, Frozen Oysters Recalled for Norovirus

Seoul Trading Inc. has removed frozen South Korean oysters from the marketplace in some counties in Washington state because they may be contaminated with norovirus. The oysters were sold in King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties. Food establishments and restaurants that received the oysters include H-Mart locations in Federal Way, Lynnwood, and Lakewood; Asian Pacific Market in Kent; Blue Fin Buffet in Seattle; and Lam Seafood in Seattle. If you purchased this product, do not eat it. Discard or return to the place of purchase for a refund. Norovirus is a highly contagious virus that causes gastrointestinal upset, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Most people recover within a few days. Norovirus is killed at 140°F, so cooking the oysters to that temperature and holding for at least one … [Read more...]

Serving Up Norovirus, Restaurants are Most Common Source of Outbreaks

Norovirus causes more food poisoning outbreaks than any other pathogen and most of those outbreaks occur at restaurants, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Restaurants were the source of almost two thirds of all foodborne norovirus outbreaks between 2009 and 2012. The reason? Sick employees. About 70 percent of norovirus outbreaks at restaurants originate from a sick food worker.  Norovirus, which is highly contagious, is usually spread via the fecal-oral route, meaning an infected person didn't wash hands properly after using the restroom and then contaminated various surfaces or foods by touching them. The contaminated foods are then eaten by customers who become ill. This is how almost 20 million Americans contract norovirus every … [Read more...]

Norovirus is Most Common Foodborne Pathogen in US and Canada

Norovirus is the most common foodborne pathogen in the US and Canada. But the odds of getting food poisoning and the pathogens in second, third and fourth place vary depending on what country you're in, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. For example, one eighth of all Canadians are estimated to be sickened by food poisoning annually, slightly less than the US where one sixth of the population is affected.  And, in Canada, the top four causes of food poisoning are Norovirus, Clostridium perfringens, Campylobacter and non-typhoidal Salmonella. In the US, the same pathogens are the top four, but the rank in different order: Norovirus, non-typhoidal Salmonella, Clostridium perfringens, and Campylobacter. The cause of most cases of food poisoning in Canada is not known. … [Read more...]

Norovirus Outbreak Closes Virginia School

An elementary school in Alexandria, Virginia closed last week after more than 200 students and 30 staff members were sickened with gastroenteritis symptoms. Local health officials believe the cause is norovirus, which is easily spread and very contagious. John Adams Elementary School was closed on March 14, 2014 for cleaning and to have all shared surfaces disinfected. The school sent a letter to parents to tell them that some students experienced nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea on Wednesday, but when many more students became ill, they decided to close on Friday. The school was cleaned with a bleach and water solution, and the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems were turned off. HVAC units filters will be changed as part of the cleaning process. To help prevent the … [Read more...]

Dozens in Hartford County MD Sick With Food Poisoning Symptoms

The health department in Hartford County, Md. has received dozens of reports of illness with symptoms that include vomiting, diarrhea and nausea. The county is working with state officials to determine if the cause of the illnesses is Norovirus, foodborne bacteria or something else. Some of those who became ill ate at a restaurant and have submitted stool samples that are being tested. Results from those tests should be available soon, according to a health department spokesman. Norovirus is common at this time of year. A highly contagious virus, Norovirus accounts for about half of all food posioning outbreaks. Often a sick food handler is involved, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Like other foodborne illnesses, symptoms  of Norovirus include … [Read more...]

Sick Food Workers are Recipe for an Outbreak

A study published in the Journal of Food Protection looked at food worker experiences with and beliefs about working while ill. Sick food workers are an important cause of foodborne illness outbreaks in the U.S. The FDA recommends that anyone who is suffering from vomiting or diarrhea be excluded from work. The study interviewed 491 food workers from 391 randomly selected restaurants in nine states that participated in the Environmental Health Specialists Network of the CDC. The results are startling: almost 60% of workers went to work while they were ill. And 20% worked while they were ill with vomiting or diarrhea. The factors that kept them at work were concerns about job loss, leaving coworkers short staffed, and job responsibilities. The Minnesota Health Department has concluded … [Read more...]

Norovirus Sickened 282 at Jimmy John’s in Garden City, KS

Norovirus was the cause of a December food poisoning outbreak that sickened 282 people who ate at a Jimmy John's restaurant in Garden City, Kansas, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) has confirmed.  State and county officials worked together to determine the source of the outbreak which sickened customers who visited the restaurant from December 10 to December 24. The restaurant was inspected by the Kansas Department of Agriculture on December 18 and again on December 24. It closed voluntarily from December 24 through December 26 to clean and disinfect the restaurant. Norovirus is highly contagious. About half of all food posioning outbreaks are caused by norovirus, often a sick food handler is involved, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention … [Read more...]

New Norovirus Strain Effects and Significance

Last year at this time we told you about a new strain of norovirus, called GII.4 Sydney that the CDC was tracking. Last week, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services issued a warning about an outbreak in that state. The CDC has been studying this new strain. They now have information and statistics on the strain, and have analyzed data from outbreaks in five states. Since norovirus is the most common cause of gastroenteritis worldwide, and is often transmitted through contaminated food and drink, the discovery of this new strain is important. Norovirus causes 20 million illnesses every year in the U.S., causing 70,000 hospitalizations and 800 deaths. Very few Americans have resistance to this strain. This new emerging strain has caused acute gastroenteritis … [Read more...]

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