Norovirus outbreak at Commonwealth Games linked to restrooms that were ‘not as they should be’

The staff restrooms at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow have a norovirus problem. According to, almost 50 games staff members have now come down with gastrointestinal illness and a makeshift restroom is being fingered as the source.

First Minister Alex Salmond said officials were “confident” they had identified the probable cause of the outbreak, which sparked a health scare just days before Glasgow 2014 gets 

No athletes or team officials have been affected by the suspected norovirus outbreak and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said the toilet block had been closed to prevent the bug – which leads to sickness and diarrhoea – spreading further.

Speaking after the final meeting of the Glasgow 2014 strategic group yesterday, Mr Salmond said: “We’re confident we’ve identified the cause of the outbreak, a temporary facility which was not as it should be.”

‘Should be’ translates to soap, running water, paper towels and some sort of cleaning and sanitation program.

200 sick: Lake in Washington suspected for Norovirus outbreak

A mysterious intestinal ailment that struck down about 200 people who swam in a Washington lake has pushed officials to shut down access to the lake.

Horseshoe_Lake_Exley_Falls_t470The swimmers who enjoyed a summer weekend at Horseshoe Lake have been reporting symptoms of nausea, cramps and diarrhea, officials said.

The officials suspect a norovirus may be the culprit but are awaiting test results.

In the meantime the popular Horseshoe Lake County Park swimming site has been closed to vacationers until further notice, they say, and warning signs have been posted on the lake shoreline.

“Although there is no laboratory confirmation of a specific virus or bacteria responsible for the illnesses at this time, Public Health and Kitsap County are issuing the temporary closure as a precautionary measure while they investigate and to protect the public and prevent any additional illnesses,” the county public health district said [pdf] in a statement.

The county park is apparently the only area on the lake affected so far, officials said.

100 sick: Norovirus outbreak linked to Eagle Island in Idaho

Patient samples from a recent outbreak of illness at Eagle Island State Park have tested positive for norovirus, the Central District Health Department said in a news release Wednesday afternoon.

Eagle Island State ParkMore than 100 cases of vomiting and diarrhea were reported to CDHD this Monday and Tuesday, prompting the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation to close the swimming area at Eagle Island. Park staff is working with CDHD and DEQ to lower lake levels and thoroughly disinfect impacted facilities.

The swimming areas at Eagle Island will remain closed for two weeks to allow for drainage and refill of the lake. All other areas at the park will remain open for recreational use.

Norovirus is the most common cause of sudden-onset vomiting and diarrhea, CDHD reports.

32 sick from Norovirus at Commonweath Games in Scotland

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond insisted on Friday that the source of the suspected norovirus outbreak which has hit the Commonwealth Games’ Village has been traced.

norovirus-2There have been 32 suspected cases of the sickness and diarrhea among workers at the Athletes’ Village in Glasgow although no athletes or team officials have been affected.

Salmond said they are confident the source of the outbreak has been identified with just five days to go before the Games start.

It has been traced to a temporary facility that was in use during construction work in the security area.

Who wants norovirus at a wedding, in Finland?

In August 2012, an outbreak of gastroenteritis occurred among 88 persons attending a wedding reception at a resort/activity centre in Ylöjärvi, Finland. Of 39 interviewed guests, 23 met the case definition.

norovirus-2Two persons were hospitalized. Epidemiological, laboratory and environmental investigations were conducted to characterize the outbreak and to recommend control measures. Investigation confirmed the presence of a new strain of norovirus GII.4 Sydney variant in stool specimens obtained from two wedding guests and on several environmental surfaces in the centre. In the questionnaire study, none of the foods or beverages served during the reception were significantly associated with the illness. Additional cases of gastroenteritis that occurred at the centre before and after the wedding reception supported the hypothesis of environmental transmission of norovirus. After thorough cleansing and disinfection and 1 week’s quarantine, no new cases with symptoms typical for norovirus infection were identified at the centre.

Outbreak of gastroenteritis caused by norovirus GII.4 Sydney variant after a wedding reception at a resort/activity centre, Finland, August 2012

Epidemiology and Infection


Sandwich artist says Subway manager made her work while ill

Norovirus is the perfect human pathogen. With its low median infectious dose and stability, norovirus is built to be transferred. Beyond its durability, billions of particles can be shed in every gram of feces and vomit from an infected individual and can be transferred well via fomites, food and water.

Sort of a nightmare for a restaurant if one of their kitchen staff shows up to work ill.

And a worse situation is when a manager says to an ill food handler that she can’t go home until after the lunch rush.images

Which is apparently what happened at a Freeport, Texas Subway. According to Emily Thomas at the Huffington Post, former sandwich artist Elizabeth Taff was eventually fired for wanting to go home because she had vomited.

A Subway worker in Freeport, Texas, claims she was forced to continue working her shift while suffering from a stomach bug, then was fired the same day.

Elizabeth Taff, 24, says she was so sick she could barely stand up straight and vomited several times during her shift on July 11, but her manager refused to let her leave unless she found someone to cover her shift.

“About 40 minutes into my shift I felt nauseous. My mouth started watering, and I knew I was about to vomit. I ran into the restroom and vomited repeatedly,” Taff told The Huffington Post. “I went and let my manager know, [but] she told me to find my own replacement after lunch rush.”

Taff says she then summoned enough strength to get through the lunch rush, hoping to track down another employee to fill in for her. But no one else was available, she said.

She noticed vomit on her work clothes and, rather than take a pay cut for a new work shirt, phoned home for someone to bring her a clean outfit, she said. She also maintains she didn’t leave work for fear of getting fired and losing her paycheck.

Speaking to local news outlet KPRC, Taff expressed concern for the impact her sickness could have had on customers.

“I was touching everybody’s sandwiches,” she said. “I’m like, ‘This ain’t right.’ I had gloves on but that doesn’t matter.”

Ultimately, though, she was fired that day. Subway asserts the decision was due to her “poor performance and insubordination,” reports KPRC.

“I was on my knees [on the grass outside the restaurant], while [the manager] berated me with remarks such as ‘you’re so stupid, if you cant handle working while feeling ill you don’t need to work here, all you had to do was switch shirts and finish your shift,’” Taff told HuffPost. “She told me I was fired since I was unable to talk, due to vomiting all over the place.”

Norovirus: it’s everywhere and you still don’t want it

Ingeborg et al. report in Food Control that Noroviruses (NoV) are among the most common causes of viral gastroenteritis (GE) worldwide and can be transmitted from person-to-person, via food or contaminated surfaces. The present study aimed to examine the prevalence of NoV RNA on surfaces in food preparation and sanitary areas in different health care settings and to compare the outcomes with the prevalence in nearby located catering companies, mainly restaurants, for general public, as sentinels.

norovirus-2For this purpose, 1087 environmental swabs were taken for NoV analyses from surfaces in 241 institutional departments and 123 catering companies in The Netherlands without a recently reported outbreak of gastro-enteritis in high NoV season only. NoV RNA was detected in 15.1% of the 73 non-hospital health care institutions, 11.1% of the 54 hospital central kitchen departments, 14.9% of the 114 decentralized hospital kitchens (in-patient units) and 4.1% of the 123 nearby located catering companies. Twenty-five of the 49 positive environmental samples were genotyped by sequence analyses. In 7% of the investigated hospitals (4/58), NoV was detected in two or more departments. NoV prevalence was significantly lower in food preparation areas than in sanitary facilities (p < 0.05), but only in hospital central kitchen departments and non-hospital health care settings, and not in de-centralized hospital kitchens in in-patient units or in catering companies for the general public. This data suggests that there is a need for education on risks of NoV transmission by food handling of healthcare workers using in ward kitchen facilities.

Environmental testing for norovirus in various institutional settings using catering companies as sentinels for norovirus prevalence among the general population


Ingeborg L.A. Boxmana, Linda Verhoefb, Geke Hägelea, Kyara Klundera, Nathalie A.J.M. te Loekea, Harry Vennemab, Claudia C.C. Jansena, Marion Koopmans

Food Control, Volume 47, January 2015, Pages 98–102, DOI: 10.1016/j.foodcont.2014.06.026

Workers at trendy NYC brunch spot forced to poop in cup

The New York Post reports that workers at the trendy Manhattan restaurant, Freemans, were forced to hand over stool samples to the Department of Health — after a pregnant customer reported she contracted a foodborne illness at the eatery.

freeman's.noroThe Lower East Side brunch hot-spot — which boasts celebrity clients and hour-long waits — was investigated for an outbreak of norovirus, a Department of Health spokesman said.

During the probe, workers were asked to do their business in a cup to prove they were free of the virus, which causes vomiting and diarrhea sources said.

“They came and checked everything yesterday…They tested everyone… [They took] stool samples,” a worker told The Post with a sheepish grin on Thursday.

The virus is contracted through fecal matter and person-to-person contact and effects roughly 20 million people every year.

A spokesman for the restaurant claimed the health department found no sign of norovirus.

“The Dept of Health did look into this at Freemans and have concluded their findings and ended their investigation and found no link or transmission of any kind at the restaurant,” said restaurant rep Eden Grimaldi.

“Freemans remains open, with an A rating,” Grimaldi added.

I didn’t poop in public but camera says I did: acute gastroenteritis and video camera surveillance on a cruise ship

Researchers in Norway report that a fecal accident was discovered in front of a passenger cabin of a cruise ship. After proper cleaning of the area the passenger was approached, but denied having any gastrointestinal symptoms. However, when confronted with surveillance camera evidence, she admitted having the accident and even bringing the towel stained with diarrhea back to the pool towels bin.  She was isolated until the next port where she was disembarked.

No Poop(1)Acute gastroenteritis (AGE) caused by Norovirus is very contagious and easily transmitted from person to person on cruise ships. The main purpose of isolation is to avoid public vomiting and fecal accidents. To quickly identify and isolate contagious passengers and crew and ensure their compliance are key elements in outbreak prevention and control, but this is difficult if ill persons deny symptoms. All passenger ships visiting U.S. ports now have surveillance video cameras, which under certain circumstances can assist in finding potential index cases for AGE outbreaks.

‘Feels like you’re going to die’ BC couple on norovirus cruise demand refund

A couple from Victoria, British Columbia (that’s in Canada) are demanding a full refund after enduring what they say was a nightmare cruise ship vacation.

norovirus-2Wally and Diane King embarked on Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas last January. Norovirus struck on the second day of the week-long trip from Newark, New Jersey, to the Caribbean.

They were among more than 600 people who got sick on the ship.

“It feels like you are going to die and you wish you could, you know?” says Diane King. “It was just awful. I have never been that sick in my life.”

The Kings spent $7,300 on their holiday. Royal Caribbean offered some compensation to passengers, including a 50 per cent refund on the cost, on-board credit, and half-off on another cruise within a year.

The Kings received $1,300 back from Royal Caribbean: In their opinion, it wasn’t enough.

“It wasn’t a trip or a holiday for us. It was a disaster,” says Diane. “I want to be reimbursed for the whole trip.”

In a written statement, Royal Caribbean told CBC News: “We are sorry Mr. & Mrs. King got ill during this sailing and were not able to enjoy portions of their vacation. We recognized that this particular cruise was exceptionally challenging — so much so that our compensation went above and beyond what we normally offer in other circumstances.”

vomit cruiseSanjay Goel, president of travel agency Cruise Connections, says a full refund is the industry standard for compensation on cancelled cruises. Travellers can buy insurance to fully cover themselves in these sorts of situations.

“The most important thing for anyone to consider no matter what trip you are taking is to take out travel insurance,” says Goel. “That protects their investment against the unforeseen.”

The Kings say they don’t blame Royal Caribbean for their illnesses; just for not taking better care of its customers.