Norovirus still going strong… – NoroCORE Food Virology

Norovirus still going strong…

Norovirus is still going strong, in spite of the arrival of spring. Outbreaks of the virus peak during the winter months, but can occur any time of the year. The month of March was full of reminders that this illness is not limited to the chilliest season. Outbreaks were regularly reported at schools, hospitals, restaurants, and even an airport, both in the U.S. and abroad. A few of the “highlights” include an outbreak affecting tourists in a Chicago airport; schools and universities that have been hit by the bug; a county-wide outbreak in Georgia; a restaurant whose clients were infected by an asymptomatic employee; and the UK’s ongoing battle with the bug in hospital wards.  These are just some of many reported outbreaks and cases from the last month.

Just last week, a group of Scandinavian tourists missed their flight home thanks to what was likely norovirus. They fell ill prior to boarding at O’Hare International Airport and were taken to area hospitals. The pilot of the flight headed for Copenhagen then required all members of the group to leave the plane when two more travelers became ill after boarding. The group of 52 tourists was on a bus trip from Memphis to Chicago, and Chicago health investigators think that the virus was contracted outside of Chicago.

Also last week, a UK primary school reopened after closing its doors for a several-day deep cleaning following a norovirus outbreak.  Over 100 students and staff became ill in the outbreak.  The school reopened last Tuesday with a staggered opening to students from different grades; it had closed the previous Thursday.

Colquitt County, Georgia, reported last week that it is experiencing a “community-wide outbreak” of norovirus.  Schools and daycares have both been affected.  Officials have concluded that no food operations were to blame, but advise residents to step up handwashing and cleaning efforts to help prevent additional spread of the virus.

Brown University in Rhode Island experienced an outbreak of norovirus in late March, with at least 28 reported cases.  The Rhode Island Department of Health confirmed that the outbreak was caused by norovirus after testing samples from sick students.  While the cause is unknown, they believe that students passed the virus person to person.

At the end of February, world-famous Danish restaurant Noma was implicated in a norovirus outbreak that affected 63 of the 435 people who dined at the restaurant between February 12 and 16.  Noma has been previously named number one restaurant in the world.  Officials suspect an asymptomatic employee was the cause of the outbreak.  The restaurant was thoroughly cleaned and food from the period of the outbreak was destroyed.  This is a great example of an outbreak caused by a person who is contagious but not showing any symptoms of the virus.

UK hospitals were still battling the virus in early-mid March.

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