Outbreak Update! – NoroCORE Food Virology

Outbreak Update!

The norovirus season is truly in full gear.  Since the last post, there have been a number of norovirus outbreak reports from the US and the UK to add to this year’s growing list.  Rather than devote a lengthy post to each individual situation, the following is a list of the highlights with quick blurbs about each, and links to the news articles and other resources related to the story.

 photo of the US flag with blue sky and clouds backgroundUS Outbreaks

-167 ill from Golden Corral in Wyoming, US:  A Golden Corral in Casper, Wyoming, voluntarily shut down last Thursday for a deep cleaning after approximately 167 people reported being ill with norovirus after eating at the restaurant over the past week.  The restaurant is the likely source for the outbreak, although it is not likely that the specific food responsible will be identified, given the buffet-style of the restaurant.  The restaurant was working with officials to clean up for re-opening.
Billings Gazette
Casper Star Tribune

-Arlington Schools, VA, US:  A norovirus outbreak in the Arlington, VA, area has been confirmed, after four cases of the illness were reported in the area last week.  Parents have been alerted, as norovirus spreads easily in school settings.  The state of Virginia needs only two test cases to confirm an outbreak.
CBS Local 

-Michigan, US:  “The Midland County Department of Public Health said Tuesday several norovirus outbreaks have been reported in the mid-Michigan area recently, including the closure of a few schools.”  The article provides good information for preventing the spread of the virus.
Midland Daily News

 photo of the UK flag with blue sky and clouds backgroundUK Outbreaks

-As many as 300 ill with norovirus from Oriana cruise ship, UK:  As many as 300 passengers on the cruise ship Oriana (owned by P&O, whose parent company is Carnival UK) became ill with norovirus.  The ship was on a 10-day cruise in the Baltic.  Angry passengers spoke out about the misery of the outbreak, while cruise ship owners played down the situation.  The ship was scheduled to set out for its next cruise shortly after this group disembarked.

-UK Hospitals:  Over the past couple months, norovirus has been sweeping through a number of UK hospitals, closing wards and resulting in the closing of hospitals to visitors.  A ward of Dundee’s Ninewells Hospital was closed to new admissions on Monday.  A ward in the Perth Royal Infirmary was only just reopened on Monday after a norovirus outbreak.   Also as of Monday, admissions have been suspended at the Castle Douglas Community Hospital after 15 patients and staff became ill with norovirus.  The article notes that “three wards remain closed at Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary after more than 90 patients and staff have been hit by the bug.”  These wards were closed earlier in December.   The Maidstone Hospital and The Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital (QEQM) in Margate have both had to close several wards to new admissions and close or limit visitation at to those wards late last week.  Two more wards (for a total of 5) were closed at QEQM by Monday, with a total of around 83 patients and staff members falling ill with the virus.  A Stracathro Hospital ward was closed today.

A report on Friday in Healthcare Today UK notes that hundreds of wards have had to close since the outbreaks started.  In all, the UK (including the Oriana cruise ship outbreak) has experienced almost 3,000 reported cases of norovirus so far this season, with an estimation of almost 300 additional non-reported instances for every reported case.  This means that up to 900,000 may already have been affected by norovirus in the UK this season.  Another article notes that this is up to an 80% increase in cases from the number reported this time last year.  The reports all emphasize the importance of preventing continued spread of the virus- this includes staying home while ill and immediately after illness; staying away from at-risk populations such as hospital patients if ill or recently ill; and careful hand-washing practices.

BBC News (Ninewells): http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-tayside-central-20762642
BBC News (Castle Douglas/ Dumfries and Galloway area): http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-south-scotland-20754868http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-south-scotland-20664123
BBC News (Maidstone/Margate):  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-kent-20728201http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-kent-20762699
BBC News (Stracathro): http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-tayside-central-20781404
Summary Reports:  The GuardianHealthcare Today UKIndependent UK

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