‘It came with them’ Republican convention staffers test positive for Norovirus

Nearly a dozen Republican staffers who are in Cleveland for the Republican National Convention have tested positive for norovirus, public health officials said Wednesday.

norovirusOhio public health officials confirmed reports from Tuesday that a group of staffers from the California delegation had contracted the virus, according to Stat News.

Those infected with the norovirus were part of the advance team for the California delegation, leading to concerns that the bug may spread.

“It came with them,” Erie County Health Commissioner Peter Schade told Stat News.

But public health officials have taken precautions by quarantining those who were believed to be infected, while warning others who may feel under the weather to stay in their hotels.

People say they go to work, even when they shouldn’t

Rae Ellen Bichell of NPR writes that a majority of working adults say they still go to work when they have a cold or the flu. There are some jobs where doing that can have a big effect on health.

sea-sickness1At least half of people who work in very public places, like hospitals and restaurants, report going to work when they have a cold or the flu. Those were among the findings of a poll conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

They are some of the last people you’d want to go to work sick, because they tend to have a lot of contact with people. And that helps spread disease.

“It’s one of the biggest food safety problems that there is, and we’ve known about it forever,” says Kirk Smith, who oversees foodborne outbreak investigations with the Minnesota Department of Health. But he says it’s really hard to get people to stop doing it.

When it comes to food handling, there’s one illness that’s particularly concerning: norovirus. “It is by far the most common cause of foodborne illness,” says Smith. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the virus is responsible for 35 percent of them.

That’s because there are billions of virus particles per gram in stool and vomit. It only takes about 20 of those to get someone sick. And norovirus can hitchhike from surface to surface. It takes a high concentration of bleach to kill it.

“And so it just takes microcontamination of your hands, if you don’t do a perfect job washing, to be able to contaminate food with enough of the virus to infect lots and lots of people,” says Smith.

The same virus has plagued restaurant customers across the country. Last winter, 140 people — including much of the Boston College basketball team — got sick from eating at a Chipotle in Boston where one person had gone to work sick.

“It’s definitely the norm to go into work sick. That’s what I and most of my co-workers usually do,” says Anthony Peeples. He used to work at an Olive Garden restaurant. Now he’s a bartender at a casino in Michigan City, Ind.

The CDC has found that 1 in 5 food service workers has reported working while sick with vomiting and diarrhea.

Depends if you’re in the capital region or NSW: Norovirus outbreak in Australia

Alexandra Back of the Canberra Times reports an isolation ward has been set up at Calvary Hospital and visitors are being discouraged as the hospital works to contain a gastro outbreak.

norovirus-2An intensive care patient was diagnosed with the highly contagious norovirus – that causes fever, cramping, vomiting and diarrhea – Friday last week.

Calvary Hospital chief executive Karen Edwards said there were 16 suspected cases of the virus and the patients were isolated.

The general medical ward 5W has been closed to new admissions and staff movement across the hospital was being restricted.

But one man said his wife, who had a caesarean birth under general anaesthetic two days ago, was rushed out on Thursday, a day early. He was concerned because she was still in a lot of pain.

“My concern is the continuance of care. The whole thing is, there were no options provided, in essence, we’re told they are getting everyone out by 11.30.”

Neighboring NSW Health issued a public health warning after an above average number of people went to emergency with gastro.

ACT Health said viral gastro cases weren’t notifiable in the capital, but the government had not seen a recent spike in cases.

Looks like they picked the wrong week to go to camp: Norovirus outbreak at Christie Lake sends 120 campers home

At least one parent says there’s been a lack of communication between camp officials and parents after it was confirmed all 120 campers at Christie Lake Kids’ first session are being sent home (that’s in Canada).

Christie Lake Kids'A spokesperson confirmed Wednesday about 20 kids fell ill amid what the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit says appears to be a norovirus outbreak.

Natalie Benson, director of fundraising and communications at Christie Lake, says some of the kids had to be hospitalized with what appeared to be severe gastrointestinal symptoms.

“It’s really been brought on, not entirely, by the heat,” she said. “When it’s weather like we’re seeing they really have not a lot of places to get cool and to drink lots of fluids so some of them have become dehydrated as well.”

Benson said the camp was working to contact parents and let them know their kids were coming home, but Robin Lacasse, whose daughter and niece are both at Christie Lake, says she only heard about the cancellation through the news and through word of mouth.

“I should’ve been told already,” she said. “If I didn’t have Facebook, or cell phones, and not everybody watches the news. How many kids are going to get off the bus tomorrow without their families?”

Lacasse’s niece was brought to an emergency room at around 3 a.m. Wednesday and had since been sent back to camp to rest.

Dr. Paula Stewart, medical officer of health with the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit says norovirus is unique because of how quickly it can spread.

“A very small amount can make an individual sick, which is why it can cause outbreaks,” she says, adding the virus can easily become airborne if one child is vomiting in the vicinity of other kids.

Dr. Stewart says the camp had to close to give staff time to do proper cleaning to have it ready in time for the next session.

Benson says the camp is now working on finding room for the affected children to make sure they can still go to camp this summer.

E. coli, Salmonella, Norovirus: Chipotle, you’re gonna love it

Karlene Lukovitz of MediaPost reports that after battling since last summer to recover from a series of food contamination incidents, Chipotle Mexican Grill has released a new long-form video that returns to its pre-crisis brand messaging about the superiority of its fresh, natural ingredients over typical chipotle.BSfast-food fare.

According to Chipotle, the new video, “A Love Story,” began to be developed 18 months ago, before the restaurant chain’s first two contamination incidents in August 2015. 

Those salmonella and norovirus incidents were followed in Fall 2015 by an E. coli outbreak, and then by separate norovirus incidents in December 2015 and March 2016.

The latest video’s story is about two children who set up competitive all-natural juice stands. As they grow up and establish real businesses, they resort to competing by offering increasingly processed fast food with artificial ingredients. Ultimately, they unite, fall in love, have a family and launch a food truck offering Chipotle-like items in synch with their original standards of natural ingredients and preparation.

With all the natural things like E. coli, Salmonella and Norovirus.

Doesn’t sound like the food safety and marketing hucksters are talking.

In recent months, Chipotle has tried to revive its traffic and sales with free-food offers. But its Q1 2016 same-store sales were down 30%, and it reported its first loss as a public company. Its stock price has dropped by 35% over the past 12 months. 

The new video ends by promoting its latest revival effort: a “summer rewards” program called Chiptopia.

280 sickened with Norovirus: UK carvery victims a step closer to compensation

Nearly 300 people look set to receive compensation after falling ill as a result of a norovirus outbreak at Exeter’s Toby Carvery.



Law firm Irwin Mitchell, which is representing those affected, said they have reached the next stage of their legal battle after restaurant owners Mitchells & Butlers Retail Ltd admitted breach of duty to the group.

This means the company will pay compensation to all clients who can establish that their illness and other related losses, such as lost earnings, were caused through the breach of duty.

A total of 280 people instructed the specialist public health department at Irwin Mitchell to investigate the cause of an illness outbreak over the Easter period in April 2015 during which the restaurant was closed on more than one occasion for deep cleaning.

The law firm has now secured the admission from the company which means victims are one step closer to receiving fair settlements for the illness they suffered, which left many unable to work for a number of days and ruined other customers’ holidays in the area.

It is estimated that total damages for the group action will be over £500,000, though lawyers are still gathering medical evidence.

Those seeking compensation include John Williams, 68, from Bangor, Wales, who was staying at the Exeter Arms on holiday when he fell ill with diarrhoea and sickness. The symptoms he suffered lasted three weeks and ruined his holiday.

He said: “The symptoms I suffered were absolutely horrendous and stayed with me long after I left Exeter and returned home to Wales. It really did take its toll on me.

“I don’t think enough was done to control the outbreak at the pub and the hotel and I hope that the management has learned lessons from what happened last year so this never happens again.

“The Exeter Arms failed to inform me before travelling to the restaurant and hotel that there were problems with illness. My holiday was absolutely ruined and I want to know why more wasn’t done to control the outbreak.”

Fancy food ain’t safe food: Heston-in-Australia edition

Heston Blumenthal is like a rock star of the cooking world, and so is his food.

gretzkyNo, this is what a rock star looks like (right, exactly as shown).

But there’s one thing he wishes people would stop doing in his restaurants — taking pictures of their food.

“Chefs always have this problem now, it’s across the board and you can’t control people,” he told news.com.au while in Melbourne to film Heston Week which starts tonight on MasterChef. “

“I would prefer if they (diners) didn’t take any photos and just enjoyed themselves at the table and certainly not take them throughout the whole meal.

I’d prefer it if they didn’t barf, and wish rock-star Heston and his excess shared that concern.

Australia is like Canada in that they both have an anxiety-driven need to be recognized – even if they say they don’t.

And if Heston is coming to town, that must validate things.

(Note, this is different than Wayne Gretzky coming to Australia in that he actually seeks to promote the spread of ice hockey whereas Heston seeks to promote himself.)

The UK Health Protection Agency report into an outbreak of Norovirus that felled 529 diners at Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck restaurant in early 2009, clearly identified poor reporting and employees working while sick as contributing factors to the outbreak.

Blumenthal decided to ignore this and take to the Interwebs with his own revisionist version of what went wrong earlier this year.

Television presenter Jim Rosenthal, who was sickened, called Blumenthal’s response, “pathetic.”

“He has basically attempted to re-write the HPA report and its conclusions in his favour. It is pathetic and a complete PR disaster. There isn’t even a hint of apology.

At first I was extremely sympathetic to Heston Blumenthal, but the way this has been mishandled beggars belief. I could not believe what I was reading in this email – it was like we had been sent different reports. I am taking them to court and a lot of other people are too. A simple apology might have ended all this a long time ago.”

vomit.birdBut on with the fawning.

For many people, dinner at Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck in London, which recently took up a six-month residency at Crown Casino in Melbourne, is high on their bucket list.

So much so that 15,000 Aussies forked out $525 per person (excluding wine) for the pleasure.

Heston Week, which sees Blumenthal open four MasterChef Australia pop-ups in four days, commences tonight on Ten.

I won’t be watching.

A large foodborne outbreak of norovirus in diners at a restaurant in England between January and February 2009

Epidemiology and Infection September 2012 140 : pp 1695-1701

J. Smith, N. McCarthy, L. Saldana, C. Ihekweazu, K. McPhedran, G. K. Adak, M. Iturriza-Gómara, G. Bickler and É. O’Moore


An outbreak of gastroenteritis affected at least 240 persons who had eaten at a gourmet restaurant over a period of 7 weeks in 2009 in England. Epidemiological, microbiological, and environmental studies were conducted. The case-control study demonstrated increased risk of illness in those who ate from a special ‘tasting menu’ and in particular an oyster, passion fruit jelly and lavender dish (odds ratio 7·0, 95% confidence interval 1·1–45·2). Ten diners and six staff members had laboratory-confirmed norovirus infection. Diners were infected with multiple norovirus strains belonging to genogroups I and II, a pattern characteristic of molluscan shellfish-associated outbreaks. The ongoing risk from dining at the restaurant may have been due to persistent contamination of the oyster supply alone or in combination with further spread via infected food handlers or the restaurant environment. Delayed notification of the outbreak to public health authorities may have contributed to outbreak size and duration.

Mass norovirus food poisoning at Japanese nurse

A mass food poisoning outbreak caused by Norovirus occurred at a nursery school located in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward earlier this month.

norovirus-2According to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the norovirus outbreak infected a total of 41 kindergarteners and two nursery school teachers at Yoyogi Nursery School, Fuji TV reported. Over the course of three days from June 6 to 9, the infected children and nursery school staff exhibited symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea, and complained of fever as well.

While none of the infected infants and adults were hospitalized, 35 stool samples tested positive for the norovirus. Furthermore, all infected patients consumed the same school meal on June 6, which ward officials said was deep fried chicken, meat and potato stew, and potato salad.

Shibuya Ward suspended the nursery from serving lunches for three days.

Nightmares from camp: Norovirus infects 60 Dutch students on class trip

At least 55 school children from Assen were infected with the Norovirus while on a school trip to a recreation park in Annen, RTV Drenthe reports.

meatballsThe kids are all from primary schools the Marskramer and De Scharmhof. they were visiting the Annen park for a few days.

On Friday about 40 children were suffering from diarrhea, nausea and headaches. Over the weekend another 15 fell sick. GGD doctor Jorien Van Pelt confirmed that they were infected with the highly contagious virus.

Public health service GGD believes that one sick child infected the rest. All children who start showing symptoms are advised to stay at home.


Handwashing can limit spread of Norovirus

Norovirus (NoV) epidemics normally peak in December in Japan; however, the peak in the 2009-2010 season was delayed until the fourth week of January 2010.

sponge.bob.handwashingWe suspected intensive hand hygiene that was conducted for a previous pandemic influenza in 2009 as the cause of this delay.

We analysed the NoV epidemic trend, based on national surveillance data, and its associations with monthly output data for hand hygiene products, including alcohol-based skin antiseptics and hand soap.

The delayed peak in the NoV incidence in the 2009-2010 season had the lowest number of recorded cases of the five seasons studied (2006-2007 to 2010-2011). GII.4 was the most commonly occurring genotype. The monthly relative risk of NoV and monthly output of both alcohol-based skin antiseptics and hand soap were significantly and negatively correlated. Our findings suggest an association between hand hygiene using these products and prevention of NoV transmission.

Delayed norovirus epidemic in the 2009-2010 season in Japan: potential relationship with intensive hand sanitizer use for pandemic influenza

Epidemiol Infect. 2016 Jun 15:1-7., ahead of print

Inaida, Y. Shobugawa, S. Matsuno, R. Saito, H. Suzuki