September 29, 2016

What’s With Norovirus in Overland Park?

There are three norovirus outbreaks in Overland Park, Kansas that are being investigated by the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. At least 628 people have been sickened so far in these outbreaks.

Norovirus and PillsNorovirus is very common, especially in the winter months. The virus is very contagious and easily transmitted through contact with food and surfaces, and from person-to-person. When people stay indoors more often in the colder weather, it’s very easy to pass the virus around and contract it.

The first outbreak is among people who visited the New Theatre Restaurant in mid-January 2016. At least 600 people have been sickened in that outbreak. Most of those sickened were at the facility between January 15 and 19, 2016.

The second outbreak is among people who visited Buffalo Wild Wings at the end of January in the city. At least 10 people are ill in that outbreak. The Johnson County Department of Health and Environment has received confirmation of one positive case of norovirus associated with that investigation. But that does not mean that Overland Park’s Buffalo Wild Wings is the source of the outbreak. The investigation is ongoing.

An inspection at that Buffalo Wild Wings facility on January 30, 2016 revealed 18 violations, according to the Kansas Department of Agriculture. Some of the violations included “An employee wiped his nose with the back of a gloved hand and then returned to work without washing hands and changing gloves,” and “Boxed dinner napkins are being stored on the floor of employee restroom.” In addition, “There is no hot water available in employee restroom,” and visible dried food debris was found on pans, knives, and a pizza cutter. All violations were corrected.

And the third outbreak is a possible norovirus outbreak at the University of Kansas Marillac Campus. Ten patients and eight staff were reported sick at the Overland Park campus. The state health department and a private lab are conducting tests to confirm whether that outbreak is norovirus. The hospital is deep cleaning and is not taking any new patients until the situation is resolved.

While norovirus is common in winter months, there are things you can do to prevent it. Never prepare food or drinks for others or serve them to others when you are sick, especially with a gastrointestinal illness. Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before preparing and handling food, and after using the bathroom or changing a diaper. Wash your hands after caring for a sick person. And try to stay home when you are ill to avoid spreading the illness.

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