Australian swimmer has gastro, just 24 hours out from the Commonwealth Games opening

A member of the Australian swim team has contracted the Norovirus after more than 50 staff members at Commonwealth Games athletes’ village have been affected by the highly contagious virus otherwise known as gastro.

286783-fee89b38-00cc-11e4-a9df-6cbc2a380379Despite the Games press manager Andrew McMenamin insisting that athletes should not be alarmed, saying the bug had been contained to security personnel, at least one Australian athlete has presented with symptoms and has been quarantined.

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


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.

Nottinghamshire fruit growers hit back at health scare as crops are given all-clear

From the I’ve-been-doings-things-this-way-all-my-life files comes word that strawberry growers across Nottinghamshire, UK, say their product is “perfectly safe” in light of a report from  the European Food Safety Agency which described frozen strawberries, along with raspberries, as an “emerging public health risk” after being linked to cases of the potentially fatal norovirus in Europe.

strawberryIIn 2012, almost 11,000 people in Germany were struck down by Norovirus.

The Food Safety Agency report warned that fruits could be contaminated by dirty water used in irrigation or to dilute fertiliser, or a lack of hygiene in the packing and freezing processes.

However, there have not been any confirmed outbreaks in Britain.

Maybe theirs some confusion between frozen and fresh.

Suzannah Starkey, of Starkey’s Fruit in Southwell, said, “We don’t want the British people to fall out of love with strawberries – you can’t get better anywhere else. They are at their very best at the moment.

“All the Starkey family have eaten the strawberries all their lives, straight from the bush, and have never had a single problem.” Our strawberries are subject to very stringent hygiene standards. The pickers always wash their hands before picking and are subject to spot checks by health inspectors. The punnets are heat-sealed and rapidly chilled, and are maintained at that level until they are taken off the shelf by the customer.”

Responding to the European Food Safety Agency report, Laurence Olins, chairman of British Summer Fruits, the UK body dedicated to the promotion of British-grown soft and stone fruits, said: “The UK fresh fruit crop does not pose a public health risk.

“This report is based on out-of-date references relating to a very specific issue with frozen berries from developing countries, imported into other parts of Europe in 2012.”