At least eight members of the Boston College men’s basketball team are among 80 sickened after eating at a Boston Area Chipolte. Health officials have tested all 80 people for Norovirus and E. coli and will have results within 48 hours.
Symptoms of those who became ill included vomiting and diarrhea. Several members of the Boston College basketball team were so sick they missed Sunday’s game, and some of them may also miss tomorrow’s game.
The Boston outbreak is the latest blow to Chipotle’s food safety record. Currently linked to a nine-state E. coli outbreak that has sickened 52 people, Chipotle was also linked to a September Salmonella outbreak in Minnesota and a September Norovirus outbreak in California.
The E.coli outbreak includes cases in California (3), Illinois (1), Maryland (1), Minnesota (2), New York (1), Ohio (3), Oregon (13), Pennsylvania (1), and Washington (27). Health officials have not yet determined the food source of that outbreak.
Symptoms of an E. coli infection include abdominal cramps, diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, vomiting and a fever of less than 101˚F. Symptoms usually develop one to three days after exposure and last about a week. Those at highest risk include children, seniors and those with compromised immune systems.
Symptoms of a Norovirus infection are vomiting and diarrhea. Norovirus is a highly contagious illness often causing outbreaks where large numbers of people are sickened. The leading cause of food poisoning outbreaks in the U.S., Norovirus sickens about 20 million Americans each year. About 65 percent of Norovirus outbreaks, happen at restaurants and originate from an infected food worker.
People with norovirus shed billions of viral particles in their stool and vomit. The virus is transmitted when a food handler who has been sick has microscopic amounts of vomit or stool on his or her hands and touches food that is eaten by someone else or contaminates a food preparation area by touching it.
The virus is easily transmitted in shared spaces that are not carefully and thoroughly cleaned such as cruise ships, cafeterias and college dorms. The amount of norovirus that fits on the head of a pin is enough to make 1,000 people sick.
A person with norovirus is most contagious while they are experiencing symptoms but may also infect others before symptoms start and after they resolve which is why public health workers urge sick restaurant employees to stay home if they are sick.
Norovirus is hard to kill and can remain on foods even at temperatures below freezing and above 140°F. It can survive of on countertops or utensils for up to two weeks. It can also resist many common disinfectants and hand sanitizers.