May 22, 2019

Norovirus Outbreak at La Hacienda Restaurant in Madison, WI

About 25 people have been sickened in a norovirus outbreak at La Hacienda restaurant at 515 South Park Street in Madison, Wisconsin, according to news reports. The restaurant was closed on Thursday, May 9, 2019 and remained closed over the weekend as investigators gathered information about the illnesses.

Norovirus Outbreak at La Hacienda Restaurant in Madison, WI

The restaurant reopened yesterday, May 14, 2019, after it was cleaned and the investigation was closed. There is no information about the conditions of those sickened or whether or not anyone was hospitalized in this outbreak.

Norovirus is very contagious, and can spread through contaminated food and drink, as well as person-to-person contact and contact with contaminated surfaces. The virus causes vomiting and diarrhea with a quick onset. Most people recover within a day or two without medical treatment, although some may become sick enough to require hospitalization.

None of the news reports specified a source for the virus. Previous Norovirus outbreaks have been linked to ill employees, contaminated food, and sick patrons. Failure to wash hands after using the bathroom is one common way the virus is spread. It can be difficult to establish a definitive cause with these types of viral foodborne illness outbreaks.

The virus can be difficult to eradicate once it becomes established in a location. The virus is resistant to many types of disinfectants used in food establishments. In fact, norovirus can survive a trip through a dishwasher. Restaurants such as La Hacienda are often closed after illnesses have been reported to public health officials. The facilities must be deep cleaned, employees are trained, and ready-to-eat foods are usually discarded before the restaurant is allowed to reopen.

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