oyster-300x186Vancouver Island Health says norovirus is likely to blame after more than 100 people who ate raw oysters in Tofino earlier this month fell ill.

Roughly 120 people, many of whom had attended the Clayoquot Oyster Festival, suffered gastro-intestinal symptoms last week.

But Island Health says people got sick at more than one location, and that people reported being ill over the course of several days.

They say it appears everyone who became ill consumed raw oysters from the same supplier, who is not being named.

“The predominant amount of evidence clearly shows that raw oysters at that particular point in time that were available were the cause of the illness,” said Paul Hasselback, a medical health officer for Island Health.

Hasselback says they are now investigating how the affected oysters were harvested and transported.

“It’s unfortunate when these incidents do occur. We now need to figure out what occurred so that we can learn from that and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Hasselback says everyone who fell ill has since recovered.

According to news reports, there have been a number of shellfish-related illnesses in B.C. in the past two years, and officials have warned that the warming climate is linked to an increase in food poisoning from oysters.

3FcB0eoNAs reported yesterday, the Erie County Department of Health (“ECDOH”) is currently investigating reports of illness possibly associated with Mighty Taco restaurants.  The investigation is being conducted jointly with the New York State Department of Health (“NYSDOH”), Niagara County Department of Health, and the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.

At this time, the ECDOH has received reports from 104 individuals reporting symptoms consisting primarily of nausea and vomiting after consuming refried beans from one of 11 Mighty Taco locations in Erie County between the dates of September 27th and noon on October 6th, 2016. As this is an ongoing investigation, those numbers may change as additional reports are received.

“The investigation and analysis into an incident of a possible foodborne illness can be very complicated and may take weeks,” stated Dr. Gale Burstein, Erie County Commissioner of Health.  “We need to interview each individual extensively to identify a possible source. I can assure Erie County residents that the full resources of the ECDOH are working on this.”

Representative samples are en route to the New York State Department of Health’s Wadsworth Center in Albany for testing. The exact time when results will be available is unknown, but are not expected before the end of next week at the earliest.

Erie County residents who wish to report an illness that may be associated with this investigation may do so by calling the ECDOH Office of Epidemiology and Disease Control at 716.858.7697.

Barf_BagPerhaps not the tag line the intended?  You could also use Make American Vomit, Puke, Gag, Retch, Spew, Hurl, Shit, Poop, Dump, Defecate, Crap Again.

The LA Times, Seema Mehta reports:

At least a dozen California GOP staff members at the Republican National Convention have been quarantined in their hotel rooms after becoming ill with what appears to be a highly contagious norovirus, also known as the cruise-ship virus, according to officials from both the California GOP and local health agencies.

“It looks like norovirus,” said Pete Schade, the Erie County health commissioner. His department collected fecal samples from the afflicted staffers Tuesday morning and planned to take them to a state lab in the afternoon.

“As soon as we know a little bit more about what we’re dealing with for sure, we’ll have a better way of dealing with future precautions.”

The 550-member delegation was warned of the outbreak by state GOP officials in an email at 2:40 a.m. Tuesday. They were advised to avoid shaking hands with others, to wash hands frequently, to avoid sharing food and to not use the delegation buses to the convention if they have any symptoms — all difficult rules to follow at a political convention.

Trump, however, is likely safe.  According to Kevin Drum at Mother Jones:

I assume everyone knows this about Donald Trump, right?

A self-confessed germaphobe, Trump doesn’t even like to push a ground floor elevator button because it’s been tapped by so many people….This does not sit well with the masses, let alone the PTA crowd. Trump especially avoids shaking hands with teachers, since they are likely to be have been “in touch” with too many germy kids.

For more on Norovirus, see www.about-norovirus.com.

images.washingtonpost.comThe Willamette Week reports that the Oregonian has begun rebuilding its staff—it welcomed three new reporters in the past couple of weeks—and newsroom morale after years of buyouts.

But one feel-good initiative, a May 31 cake-and-coffee gathering to recognize outstanding staff performance, went awry.

The Multnomah County Health Department is now investigating a potential norovirus outbreak after at least 14 people came down with stomach pain and severe diarrhea after the event.

The county sent samples of the cake to a laboratory for testing, according to health department spokeswoman Julie Sullivan-Springhetti. “One person did test positive to norovirus,” Sullivan-Springhetti says, referring to the stomach-flu-like ailment sometimes called “cruise-ship disease.”

As The Oregonian has reported, norovirus and other food-borne disorders are increasingly common.

“It was definitely unfortunate,” Oregonian Editor Mark Katches says in an email. “But it won’t stop us from doing these types of celebrations in the future.”

151208103509-chipotle-boston-college-students-sick-pkg-00000000-exlarge-169More than 120 Boston College students were taken ill after eating at the same Chipotle at 1924 Beacon Street in Brighton in December 2015.

After receiving reports of multiple cases of gastrointestinal illness among patrons who ate at the Chipotle Mexican Grill in Cleveland Circle, the Boston Public Health Commission, the City of Boston Inspectional Services Department, and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health launched an investigation to determine the cause and the nature of the illness. Laboratory testing confirmed the presence of norovirus.

There were 136 known cases of norovirus from people who ate at Chipotle; others who were contacts to these cases have also become ill.

City inspectors closed the Chipotle, located in Brighton near BC’s campus, “until further notice” after reporting three critical health violations following a visit Monday.

According to the Inspection Services Department, an employee came to work sick last Thursday and chicken and steak on the service line were being held at 128 degrees F and 124 degrees F, respectively—below the required temperature range of at least 140 degrees F. The third violation was of multiple reports of foodborne illness from the location. All three citations were given the department’s most serious grade of violation. A spokeswoman for the Boston Public Health Commission said the illnesses were likely caused by norovirus, but final test results are not expected to for a couple of days.

norovirusThe Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) is working with the Kansas Department of Agriculture and the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment to investigate an outbreak of norovirus infection among individuals who became ill after attending the New Theatre Restaurant in Overland Park, Kan. Based on reports of illness from attendees, KDHE is now expanding the investigation. KDHE would like all persons, those that became ill and those that did NOT become ill, who attended performances since Friday, Jan. 15 to fill out our secure, confidential online survey available at http://tinyurl.com/newtheatre2016. KDHE is still investigating the source of the illness.

So far during KDHE’s investigation, more than 390 individuals have reported illness and attended the New Theatre Restaurant from Friday, Jan. 15 to present. Four people who became ill have laboratory specimens that confirmed norovirus.

Norovirus is different from influenza and is very contagious. Norovirus symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and stomach pain. A person develops symptoms 12 to 48 hours after being exposed and most people get better within one to three days. Norovirus is spread person to person (having contact with someone who is infected with norovirus), through contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces. Norovirus is not spread through the air through coughing, sneezing or talking. The best way to prevent norovirus is proper handwashing. Norovirus causes an estimated 19 to 21 million persons to become ill each year, and is more common in the winter months.

maggianosFB.0.0Public Health is currently investigating an outbreak of norovirus-like illness associated with Maggiano’s Little Italy restaurant in Bellevue. We are in the early stages of our investigation so information could change. Preliminary information indicates that as many as 50 who attended a private event at the restaurant on 1/18/16 may have come down with norovirus following the event. One or more of the attendees may have already been ill at the time of the event. Several restaurant workers were also believed to be ill with symptoms consistent with norovirus dating back to 1/9/16 and over the subsequent two weeks. We currently do not have laboratory confirmation that this is definitively norovirus, but often in norovirus outbreaks no laboratory testing is done. If and when we get confirmation we will update this information on this website.

Public Health learned of the outbreak late on Friday, 1/21. The restaurant is working cooperatively with Public Health, and we have suspended their food business permit in order to allow time for thorough cleaning and sanitizing. Public Health staff will be conducting interviews of ill persons. People who are ill with vomiting or diarrhea for more than 3 days, or who have signs of serious illness like bloody diarrhea should see a health care provider.

norovirusIn late August 2015 Ventura County Environmental Health and Ventura County Public Health investigated an outbreak of norovirus occurring among customers of the Chipotle Restaurant located at Simi Valley Towne Center. Ill customers ate at the restaurant on August 18 or August 19. Symptoms began between 3 and 30 hours after patrons ate at the restaurant. Commonly reported symptoms were nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, fever, body aches, stomach cramps and chills. At least two customers submitted stool specimens that were positive for norovirus.

The restaurant was closed on August 21 for a thorough cleaning. All food was discarded and surfaces were cleaned. Ill food handlers were told they could not return to work until five days after symptoms resolved. Food handlers who tested positive for norovirus could not return to work until laboratory tests were negative for norovirus.

The outbreak was summarized in an inspection report written by Ventura County Environmental Health inspector, Ramesh Bassiri. Mr. Bassiri documented a report of two complaints encompassing three individuals who had eaten at Chipotle between August 16 and August 20. He noted that the Chipotle area manager had been alerted to illnesses via a computer complaint hotline. By August 24, as many as 46 customers and 17 employees were ill. The number of ill customers would grow and as many as 100 Chipotle customers reported symptoms.

Mr. Bassiri conducted an inspection at the restaurant on August 24. Numerous violations were noted. Employees did not have valid food handler cards, a requirement for employment. Inspector Bassiri observed an accumulation of mildew on the inside of the ice machine and on the backsplash of the ware washing sink as well as an accumulation of grease and food debris in the deep fryer. Restrooms were in disrepair and ceiling tiles were missing. Employees were instructed to keep floors clean and maintained. These violations needed to be corrected and a follow up inspection would be conducted within several days.

On August 27 Mr. Bassiri returned to the restaurant. This time he observed a serious food safety practice. A container of beef was held at 118oF on the steam table, considerably below the 135oF required by California food code regulations. The food item was discarded. Most of the violations noted on August 24 had been corrected. The item not corrected was a repair of a damaged gasket to a “merchandiser” located at the front of the service counter. Mr. Bassiri emphasized the importance of handwashing and provided restaurant employees with handouts and stickers.

The report reveals that the Simi Valley outbreak was larger than any of the other four outbreaks Chipotle has suffered since July, including the ongoing norovirus outbreak mostly involving Boston College students, the two E. coli outbreaks, and the Salmonella Newport outbreak in Minnesota in August. Together, these events have sickened more than 490 people.

The Simi Valley chronology was prepared by the Environmental Health Division of Ventura County’s Resource Management Agency. The first report of illness at the Chipotle Mexican Grill at 1263 Simi Town Center Way came to the agency’s executive officer by email at 9:36 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015. A man said that his daughter, one of 16 students, had dined at that Chipotle restaurant and was ill. And, the students were all sick, and one was in the hospital.

The county’s chronology includes detailed tracking of the complaints as they came in and as the illnesses were confirmed as norovirus. From that first report through Sept. 25, 2015, the chronology comes to this conclusion: “the total number of reportedly ill customers and employees at this Chipotle outbreak investigation is 234.”

Here are the public records of the California norovirus outbreak:

CHIPOTLE NOROVIRUS – CDPH records

CHIPOTLE NOROVIRUS – Ventura County EH inspection records

CHIPOTLE NOROVIRUS – Ventura County Epidemiology records

Screen Shot 2016-01-06 at 4.50.10 PMIn December 2015, Chipotle was served with a Federal Grand Jury Subpoena from the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in connection with an official criminal investigation being conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, in conjunction with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations.  The subpoena requires us to produce a broad range of documents related to a Chipotle restaurant in Simi Valley, California, that experienced an isolated Norovirus incident during August2015.  We intend to fully cooperate in the investigation.  It is not possible at this time to determine whether we will incur, or to reasonably estimate the amount of, any fines, penalties or further liabilities in connection with the investigation pursuant to which the subpoena was issued.

The Simi Valley Norovirus outbreak chronology was prepared by the Environmental Health Division of Ventura County’s Resource Management Agency. The first report of illness at the Chipotle Mexican Grill at 1263 Simi Town Center Way came to the agency’s executive officer by email at 9:36 p.m. on Thursday, August 20, 2015. A man said that his daughter, one of 16 students, had dined at that Chipotle restaurant and was ill. And, the students were all sick, and one was in the hospital.

The county’s chronology includes detailed tracking of the complaints as they came in and as the illnesses were confirmed as Norovirus. From that first report through September 25, 2015, the chronology comes to this conclusion: ”the total number of reportedly ill customers and employees at this Chipotle outbreak investigation is 234.

Here are the public records of the California Norovirus outbreak:

CHIPOTLE NOROVIRUS – CDPH records

CHIPOTLE NOROVIRUS – Ventura County EH inspection records

CHIPOTLE NOROVIRUS – Ventura County Epidemiology records

Batman_Commission_by_skutterflyHoly Shit Batman!

Public health do you think keeping secret the July Seattle E. coli O157:H7 outbreak and downplaying the August Simi Valley norovirus outbreaks helped or eventually hurt Chipotle?

An official chronology of the Simi Valley, California norovirus outbreak involving Chipotle Mexican Grill customers and employees, which has been obtained by Food Safety News, shows that there were far more victims than were reported at the time.

The report reveals that the Simi Valley outbreak was larger than any of the other four outbreaks Chipotle has suffered since July, including the ongoing norovirus outbreak mostly involving Boston College students, the two E. coli outbreaks, and the Salmonella Newport outbreak in Minnesota in August. Together, these events have sickened more than 490 people.

The Simi Valley chronology was prepared by the Environmental Health Division of Ventura County’s Resource Management Agency. The first report of illness at the Chipotle Mexican Grill at 1263 Simi Town Center Way came to the agency’s executive officer by email at 9:36 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015. A man said that his daughter, one of 16 students, had dined at that Chipotle restaurant and was ill. And, the students were all sick, and one was in the hospital.

The county’s chronology includes detailed tracking of the complaints as they came in and as the illnesses were confirmed as norovirus. From that first report through Sept. 25, 2015, the chronology comes to this conclusion: ”the total number of reportedly ill customers and employees at this Chipotle outbreak investigation is 234.

Here are the public records of the California norovirus outbreak:

CHIPOTLE NOROVIRUS – CDPH records

CHIPOTLE NOROVIRUS – Ventura County EH inspection records

CHIPOTLE NOROVIRUS – Ventura County Epidemiology records

KAPOW!

Thanks Food Safety News.