Pay attention when staff barf: 96 sickened from Cowfish in NC

At least 96 people were sickened during the Norovirus outbreak at The Cowfish restaurant in early June, according to county health department records obtained by the Observer.

norovirusThe records, obtained through a public records request, provide the fullest account yet of the extent of the illnesses at the popular SouthPark sushi and burger bar.

Records show one Norovirus case was confirmed by a state Department of Health and Human Services laboratory. Ninety-five others were deemed “probable” by health officials. Just one person reported visiting a hospital.

The outbreak prompted the restaurant to close twice, once on June 5 and again on June 10. It reopened June 16.

Cowfish owner Alan Springate, responding by email to questions from the Observer, said his staff began to suspect a problem late in the day on Friday, June 5, when a customer reported some members of his party had become ill in the preceding two days.

Wednesday and Thursday of that week, two other guests had reported illnesses, but the restaurant had suspected a problem with a food item, calamari, which both guests had consumed. Cowfish removed the item from its menu and contacted its suppliers.

The person reporting on June 5 had not consumed calamari, though. At that point, “we began to consider the possibility that we were dealing with something other than a food issue,” Springate wrote.

After the Cowfish posted news of its closing on Facebook June 6, others began coming forward to report they’d been sickened. The restaurant contacted each of them and shared details with the health department, Springate said.

By the time the restaurant knew something was amiss on June 5, at least nine of the restaurant’s roughly 140 employees had been sickened, according to a report by state health inspector Nicole Lee. The first fell ill May 31, she wrote.

Springate’s email said that while some employees had called in sick, “nothing raised a red flag.”

“It’s critical to understand that although we now know we were experiencing an uptick in illness, many employees had not yet notified us because they were not scheduled to work,” he said.


Don’t be creepy: Singer gave Lionel Richie Norovirus after lips smooch at Glastonbury

Alex Jones gave the Norovirus to Lionel Richie after he planted a kiss on her lips.

lionel.richieThe One Show host joked the singer, who had to cancel two of his gigs after contracting the infection by pecking her at Glastonbury, should have just gone for her cheek to avoid having to cancel two of his gigs as a result.

She told The Sun: “After Lionel and I had just finished our chat on the show, I went to give him a kiss on the cheek and he went in for the lips.

“He caught the Norovirus off me and had to cancel two of his tour dates.”

55 sick: Norovirus linked to NC Cowfish Sushi Bar illness55 sick: Norovirus linked to NC Cowfish Sushi Bar illness

The Mecklenburg County Health Department believes norovirus is what caused customers and employees at Cowfish Sushi Bar and Grill to become sick.

Cowfish Sushi Bar and GrillTwenty-one employees and 34 customers reported flu-like symptoms, prompting the restaurant to close Saturday.

They have since sanitized and are back open.

The Health Department says it could have been passed on any number of ways.

“It could have been some contaminated object or presumably a contaminated food, but somebody had to have it to contaminate it in the first place,” said Dr. Stephen Keener, the medical director for Mecklenburg County.

The virus can live anywhere from days to weeks.

Finland marketing: Please don’t go to the toilet in the water

And you thought Canadians were polite (we’re not, we swear a lot, fornicate and play hockey, what else to do in cold weather; sorta like Finland).

la-et-mn-russell-crowe-career-in-pictures-2015-045Finland’s health authorities have been issuing advice in an attempt to prevent the spread of Norovirus among swimmers this summer, following last year’s outbreak when hundreds of beachgoers caught the contagious vomiting bug.

Authorities are now keen to avoid a repeat of last year’s numerous beach closures.

Senior inspector Jaana Kilponen, from the health and safety executive Valvira, said that changing rooms and toilet facilities at bathing spots were also responsible for the spread.

“When you’ve got ideal swimming conditions, such as warm water and lots of people, then it’s important that authorities make sure the facilities are cleaned more frequently, and kept well stocked with soap and hand towels,” she told Yle.

Kilponen also implored swimmers to avoid being sick or going to the toilet in the water – and not to drink it. Anyone with Norovirus should wait two weeks before going swimming. Kilponen admits that in theory it’s possible that a single infected swimmer could contaminate the water.

‘Food safety is our number one’ 18 sickened as California Norovirus outbreak leads to voluntary four-day restaurant closure

The well-known Sky Room restaurant and bar voluntarily closed for four days last week to implement a full-scale sanitation process in response to a norovirus outbreak, officials at The Sky Room and the Long Beach Environmental Health Bureau confirmed Monday.

sky.roomEnvironmental Health Bureau Manager Nelson Kerr and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) call the virus one of the “most common” outbreaks in the U.S., infecting 19 to 21 million people in the U.S. each year. The CDC states that anyone can be infected, often by touching an “infected person, contaminated food or water or by touching contaminated surfaces.”

“It’s been contained—at this point, it’s over,” Kerr said. “The Sky Room took the opportunity to go above and beyond in its response, according to CDC guidelines.”

Kerr said the restaurant closed from May 22 to May 26  and used the CDC guidelines required of cruise ships in response to a norovirus outbreak, which involve cleaning everything with a specific concentration of bleach and water.

According to Kerr, a total of 18 cases of the virus were reported among employees and patrons, with 15 probable cases and three confirmed. The three confirmed instances of the virus were reported among three employees of The Sky Room.

The Sky Room owner Jonathan Rosenson said, “Food safety is our number one,” Rosenson said, noting that the owners’ grandchildren have visited the restaurant since the outbreak. “We want people to come to our restaurant and have the best time ever.”

Dale Bass of Kamloops This Week (that’s in British Columbia, Canada) writes that when norovirus hit customers at one Greek restaurant in the city, there were headlines with the name of the Victoria Street eatery — and it was shut down for days.

medzedesWhen norovirus struck another Greek restaurant just 16 months later, there was nothing in media releases identifying the eatery and it was not ordered closed.

Doug Dick was one of several people who became sick with the virus after eating at Minos restaurant on Tranquille Road in North Kamloops earlier this month. He asked KTW why Minos was not closed, since Dorian’s Greek House in downtown Kamloops was closed in December 2013.

Dick wondered if the reaction to Dorian’s situation came as a result of it being Royal Inland Hospital medical staff becoming ill there, something Joyce Michaud, the Interior Health Authority’s environmental-health officer — and the person who oversees inspections of places like restaurants — said is incorrect.

She said when her team is advised of a suspicious health outbreak, it doesn’t consider the occupations of those who are sick unless there is a direct link.

The focus, Michaud said, is identifying the bug, figuring out where it came from and, if possible, where it is, and helping the facility take steps to eradicate it.

Part of that is ensuring people who need to have medical tests get them done and often, which means delivering the test kits to sick people, Michaud said, rather than asking them to leave their homes.

Dick also wondered why IHA didn’t issue a press release warning people about about Minos.

Michaud noted the IHA didn’t issue a press release about Dorian’s, either. Because RIH operating-room staff becoming ill, a release was sent out advising the public surgeries were being cancelled.

Because the medical staff had not eaten at the restaurant — Dorian’s catered an event for them — the first task was to identify where the virus had come from, Michaud said. Soon there were many more people contacting the IHA with norovirus symptoms and, when it became apparent there was a public-health risk linked to Dorian’s, the restaurant was identified.

With Minos, there was one report on May 4 of someone becoming ill after eating there on May 2. An inspector was sent to the restaurant and, in the absence of any leftover food from that date, reviewed food-safety practices with the staff and told them the facility had to be thoroughly cleaned because the virus could linger on surfaces.

“The next day, we got another call and we called the restaurant again,” Michaud said, noting the IHA did not see it as an ongoing risk to the public since the restaurant had undergone a thorough cleaning.

“With Dorian’s, there was an order issued [to close until it was given permission from IHA to reopen] ,but there was no need for an order at Minos,” Michaud said.

Orders like that issued to Dorian are also posted on the authority’s website at

While it did confirm the name of the restaurant to people calling the authority to report illness, Michaud said a decision to release a name “is typically done on the basis of ongoing risk to the community and/or where it would aid ongoing investigation by having those at risk contact IH.

“The situation at Minos was not one where it appeared the restaurant was contributing to ongoing illness,” she said.

193 take part in mass lawsuit over UK Toby Carvery Norovirus outbreak

Almost 200 people are taking part in a group legal action against an Exeter restaurant following the outbreak of norovirus.

sorry-technical-difficulties-600x337-300x169Lawyers who specialize in helping victims of illness outbreaks in the UK and abroad are investigating the norovirus outbreak at Toby Carvery at the Exeter Arms, Middlemoor.

Initially it was thought that in excess of 100 people could have been affected by the outbreak in March.

But solicitors Irwin Mitchell have now revealed that it is representing 193 people in relation to the case.

The restaurant chain confirmed that tests run by the Environmental Health department, after a man was sick in the restaurant foyer in the evening of Sunday, March 29, tested positive for the virus.

the-exeter-arms-in-middlemoorThe pub underwent a deep clean overnight on Thursday, April 2, but continued to trade over the busy Easter bank holiday weekend when more customers fell ill, finally closing on Tuesday, April 7.

Scores of people claim to have visited Toby Carvery between Monday, March 30, and Easter Sunday, April 5, and since become ill with sickness and diarrhea for several days. Restaurant staff were also affected.

Norovirus from swimming in a lake

In July, 2014 a norovirus outbreak linked to a lake near Portland, Oregon sickened 70 people. Those who swam in the lake were 2.3 times more likely to develop vomiting or diarrhea than those who visited the park but didn’t go in the water.

kids.cottage.00More than half of those who got ill were children between 4–10 years old. Experts believe the outbreak began after a swimmer infected with norovirus had diarrhea or vomited in the water and other swimmers swallowed the contaminated water. To prevent other people from getting sick, park officials closed the lake to swimmers for 10 days.

“Children are prime targets for norovirus and other germs that can live in lakes and swimming pools because they’re so much more likely to get the water in their mouths,” said Michael Beach, Ph.D, CDC’s associate director for healthy water. “Keeping germs out of the water in the first place is key to keeping everyone healthy and helping to keep the places we swim open all summer.”

 Norovirus Outbreak Associated with a Natural Lake Used for Recreation — Oregon, 2014


Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report

Amy Zlot, MPH, Maayan Simckes, MPH, Jennifer Vines, MD, Laura Reynolds, MPH, Amy Sullivan PhD, Magdalena Kendall Scott, MPH, J. Michael McLuckie, Dan Kromer, MPA, Vincent R. Hill, PhD, Jonathan S. Yoder, MPH, Michele C. Hlavsa, MPH


Why I now boil all frozen berries: Norovirus source in Sweden

Norovirus struck the care home in Ljungby a week ago, initially causing the deaths of two people, with another guest dying later in the week.

raspberrySweden’s national food agency (Livsmedelsverket) said in a statement on Monday that tests had confirmed that imported frozen fruits were the source of the sickness outbreak.

It is suspected that the raspberries became contaminated during the packing process, when boxes of berries were hand-packed by a worker who was carrying the virus.

“It is not uncommon for imported frozen raspberries to be contaminated with Norovirus,” Livsmedelsverket said in a statement on its website.

‘They should have been boiled’ 2 dead, 60 sick from Norovirus in frozen raspberries in Swedish retirement homes

I didn’t think about it much until a couple of years ago, but now I boil all frozen berries.

frozen_raspberries(1)(1)Apparently that’s a good idea.

But sad that consumers have to be the critical control point.

Two people have died of suspected food poisoning and another hospitalized. Some 60 people have suffered food poisoning on several retirement homes in Ljungby municipality. The cause is believed to be the raspberries in a dessert.

The raspberries served at several retirement homes in Ljungby municipality boiled never – contrary to the recommendations contained.

One should always boil the frozen foreign raspberries, says Elsie Castro, a molecular biologist at the National Public Health Agency.”

Mariana Axelsson, nutrition manager in Ljungby municipality, admits that the infected raspberries that caused an outbreak of Norwalk virus should have been cooked. The procedures have failed and will now be reviewed.

Hallonparfaiten served on several retirement homes in Ljungby and caused 60 people fell ill with Norwalk virus. Two elderly also have died , probably as a result of the disease.