February 14, 2016

Norovirus Outbreak at New Theatre Restaurant in Overland Park, Kansas

A norovirus outbreak at the New Theatre Restaurant in Overland Park, KS has sickened 600 people, according to the Kansas Department of  Health. The outbreak occurred between Friday, January 15 and Tuesday, January 19, 2016. Health department officials are working with the Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA) and the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment (JCDHE) to investigate the outbreak. On Friday, January 29, health officials spent time training the staff about food safety, overseeing cleanup and observing food safety practices.  The restaurant later hired a private firm to clean the entire facility with an "EPA-registered disinfectant, which kills norovirus and is safe for food establishments," according to the health department. Spread through person-to-person … [Read more...]

CDC: Norovirus Outbreaks on Cruise Ships Not as Common as they Seem

Norovirus outbreaks on cruise ships are not as common as they seem, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Rates of diarrheal illness on cruise ships have actually fallen in recent years, with the exception of 2012 when new or unusual strains of the virus wreaked havoc and made nasty headlines. Between 2008–2014, 172,810 of the 73.5 million people who took cruise ship vacations developed diarrheal illness. Most of them, 92 percent, were sickened by norovirus. Noroviruses are highly contagious and spread easily in in close quarters such as cruise ships,  long-term care facilities and dormitories. They can also survive on surfaces for long periods of time. It takes just a a small amount of norovirus to make someone sick. The amount that … [Read more...]

New Norovirus Strain Discovered in Minnesota

A new strain of norovirus, the bug that causes intestinal illness, has been discovered in Minnesota. That could mean more outbreaks this winter. The new strain, called GII.17 Kawasaki, originated in Asia. The Minnesota Department of Health said that they have investigated more than 20 norovirus outbreaks in that state since the beginning of September 2015. The new strain showed up in sporadic cases earlier this year. But the first outbreak caused by this strain was reported last week. Norovirus is extremely contagious. It is passed from person-to-person by the fecal-oral route through casual contact and through touching common surfaces. It is also spread through food and drink. Most people think this is the "stomach flu", but norovirus is not related to the influenza virus, which … [Read more...]

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...]

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