Thursday, April 24, 2008
Montezuma's Revenge Strikes Ohio Chipotle
Being an alumna of Kent State University, several things were apart of my life for those four years...lake effect snow, black squirrels, and Chipotle. There wasn't a soul in Portage County who hated the Kent Chipotle, it's ideal location on Main Street and outdoor patio was a refuge for hungry college students looking to lounge and people watch on a rare sunny day...snowy day...or any day when caloric Mexican goodness was needed.
Now that I'm doing an information technology rotation with the Food Safety Information Center, I've been pretty kept up-to-date on the outbreaks. I was really suprised that this happened in such proportions at a place I used to dine at.
Well, here's the gist of what's apparently going on...
"State health officials at the Ohio Department of Health lab confirmed late Wednesday afternoon that the food borne illnesses at the Kent Chipotle was due to Norovirus Genotype G2.
An estimated 432 people became sick due to the virus.
According to a release, state officials say 'it is evident that the food consumed from the Kent restaurant between Tuesday April 14 and Friday April 18 was contaminated with norovirus.'
Stool samples collected from people who had eaten at the restaurant during that time also tested positive for norovirus.
Health investigators say secondary cases of illness are starting to emerge, people who became ill because of close contact with someone infected with the virus. Investigators say close contact could mean people shared utensils, drank from the same glass or an infected person failed to practice good hand washing."-- WKYC-Cleveland
Well, now that's gone down the toilet, what is this norovirus?
According to the Centers for Disease Control, "noroviruses (genus Norovirus, family Caliciviridae) are a group of related, single-stranded RNA, nonenveloped viruses that cause acute gastroenteritis in humans."
What are the symptoms of illness caused by noroviruses?
The symptoms of norovirus illness usually include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and some stomach cramping. Sometimes people additionally have a low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and a general sense of tiredness. The illness often begins suddenly, and the infected person may feel very sick. In most people the illness is self-limiting with symptoms lasting for about 1 or 2 days. In general, children experience more vomiting than adults. Most people with norovirus illness have both of these symptoms.
How serious is norovirus disease?
People may feel very sick and vomit many times a day, but most people get better within 1 or 2 days, and they have no long-term health effects related to their illness. However, sometimes people are unable to drink enough liquids to replace the liquids they lost because of vomiting and diarrhea. These persons can become dehydrated and may need special medical attention. This problem with dehydration is usually only seen among the very young, the elderly, and persons with weakened immune systems.
How do people become infected with noroviruses?
Noroviruses are found in the stool or vomit of infected people. People can become infected with the virus in several ways, including:
eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated with norovirus;
touching surfaces or objects contaminated with norovirus, and then placing their hand in their mouth;
having direct contact with another person who is infected and showing symptoms (for example, when caring for someone with illness, or sharing foods or eating utensils with someone who is ill).
Persons working in day-care centers or nursing homes should pay special attention to children or residents who have norovirus illness. This virus is very contagious and can spread rapidly throughout such environments.
Luckily no one was in serious condition, just wash your hands for the minimum of 20 seconds before eating and hope your restaurant of choice does the same!
U.S. News and World Report http://health.usnews.com/articles/health/living-well-usn/2008/04/21/ohio-disease-outbreak-linked-to-chipotle-restaurant.html
WKYC- Cleveland http://www.wkyc.com/news/regional/akron_article.aspx?storyid=87913
Center for Disease Control http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/revb/gastro/norovirus.htm
Just for fun: