Michigan Counties Reporting Norovirus (Norwalk) Outbreaks

Saturday, February 20th, 2010

Washtenaw and Calhoun counties in Michigan have recently been reporting outbreaks of Norovirus (Norwalk), although it doesn’t seem for certain where the illness originated in either county yet.

The Washtenaw County Health Department reported on February 5th that the contagious virus has been quickly through the county, seemingly in clusters.  Officials believe that Norovirus has been circulating through the county for approximately one month.  County Epidemiologist Laura Bauman called Norovirus “extremely unpleasant” and advised residents to take extra care to help with Norovirus prevention.

In Calhoun County, the Health Department is investigating reports of Norovirus.  Officials with the department believe that most of the suspected cases exist in schools, nursing homes and school aged children.  They urge that residents contact their doctor with any questions or concerns.

Norovirus produces stomach-flu like symptoms, including diarrhea, nausea and abdominal pain.  Some people may also experience body aches, headache or low-grade fever.  It is usually a foodborne illness spread through contaminated foods due to improper handling and sanitary habits of those responsible for preparing and manufacturing foods.

Norovirus bacteria can live on surfaces for days. It is recommended that all surfaces that may be contaminated be wiped down with bleach and water.  Many people mistakenly believe that Clorox wipes and other household cleaners will kill the bacteria.  In order to determine if a cleaner will kill the virus, the active ingredient must contain sodium hypochlorite or NaOCI.

Health officials recommend that frequent hand-washing be part of a routine to avoid the spread of Norovirus.  Those who are ill and believe they may have the virus should avoid preparing foods.  Officials in Washtenaw county also advised day care and restaurant workers to be diligent when it comes to disinfecting, and to clean often.

Those most at risk for serious complications from Norovirus food poisoning include young children, those with a compromised immune system, and the elderly or those in nursing homes.  Malnutrition, severe dehydration and even death may occur in those at high risk.

If you or a loved one become ill with Norovirus, contact a New York food poisoning attorney to learn what your rights are, and if you may be eligible for compensation for expenses associated to your illness.

Norovirus Infection Cause of Prison Visit Cancellations in Texas

Saturday, February 20th, 2010

Recently, numerous criminal justice facilities across the state of Texas have been affected by a stomach flu like illness believed to be Norovirus (Norwalk).  In Gatesville, visitations at the Crain Unit prison facility were cancelled this past weekend after 20 inmates became ill.  A second notice was posted on the Texas Department Criminal Justice web site on Friday afternoon, stating that the Gatesville Unit had some individual housing areas that would not be accepting visitors because of the flu-like illness.

The Hilltop Unit was advising all visitors to call before they came to visit, to make certain their visit was still on.  This unit had 11 inmates that were reported ill as of Thursday, and a third Gatesville unit, the Mountainview Unit, reported 8 cases of the virus.  As of Friday, there were three prison units in Gatesville that had no reported incidents of flu-like illness.

According to Jason Clark, TDCJ spokesman, those inmates who become ill at the facilities are medically restricted and isolated.  He also said they are monitoring the situation.  Other than prohibiting visits, they also restrict transportation and movement in order to confine the illness, which spreads quickly when there are large numbers of people congregated in small areas.

Norovirus food poisoning has affected 26 prison facilities around the state of Texas, with approximately 1600 people reportedly ill.  The prison facilities affected by the outbreak are located primarily in the south and southwest sections of Texas.  The Terrell Unit which is south of Houston seems to be the hardest hit.  This facility reported 611 prisoners with confirmed cases of Norovirus, along with 42 staff members.

Clark stated that sanitation measures had been increased at all of the facilities where norovirus was suspected.

Norovirus is a foodborne illness that is usually mild, but can become serious in certain circumstances.  Individuals with compromised immune systems, as well as young children and the elderly, should see a doctor at once if symptoms of Norovirus appear.  These individuals may be susceptible to more serious complications.

Common symptoms of food poisoning include abdominal cramps, diarrhea, nausea and occasionally vomiting.  Infection may occur when individuals come in contact with other people who are infected, and fail to take proper precautions such as washing their hands thoroughly after visiting the bathroom.  Tainted foods are also frequently responsible for contracting Norovirus.

Norovirus (Norwalk) Illness in North Carolina Leads to Investigation of Area 29 Oyster Bed in Louisiana

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

Recently, Area 29 which is an oyster bed located along the banks of lower Calcasieu Lake just south of Lake Charles, Louisiana, was closed down due to being suspected in a Norovirus outbreak back in November and December that resulted in hundreds of people becoming sick in Raleigh, NC.  Many patrons became ill after eating at the 42nd St. Oyster Bar, which is located in Raleigh.

As Norovirus became suspected, investigations eventually pointed toward Area 29, which closed down on January 14th after a closure order was signed by the state health officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry, and Dr. M. Rony Francois of the Department of Health and Hospitals.  Area 29 was evaluated by Louisiana’s Molluscan Shellfish Program, and has since been cleared to reopen and opened on the 20th of January.

The Department of Health and Hospitals determined that the growing waters in Lower Calcasieu Lake are suitable for harvesting oysters.  According to public health officials in Raleigh, approximately 280 individuals became ill late last year after eating at the 42nd St. Oyster Bar, which gets their oyster supply from the vicinity of Area 29.  The waters in the area are still being monitored by DHH.

Oysters and other shellfish are often the foods responsible for the majority of Norovirus food poisoning outbreaks.  Eating these foods raw, which many people do, puts individuals at higher risk of becoming ill.  Eating shellfish that have not been cooked or heated increases the chances of becoming infected with Norovirus.  Once infected, those who handle foods may contaminate other foods with the bacteria, which spreads the infection to others and can potentially cause widespread outbreaks.

Norovirus bacteria can get in to foods such as oysters and other shellfish through sewage run off.  The foodborne illness can be spread when those who become infected do not take the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of the bacteria.  Norovirus usually causes stomach flu like symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal pain and nausea.  In some instances, serious complications can develop. Norovirus food poisoning attorney’s can help you determine whether you have a case because of your injuries.

Most people recover in just a few days without any lingering health effects, however young children, older adults and those with compromised immune systems are more at risk. Severe dehydration, malnutrition and even death can be a result of Norovirus.  Those most at risk should contact your doctor immediately if you experience symptoms of Norovirus.

Neenah, WI Sub Shop Closed Due to Norovirus Outbreak; Will Not Reopen Until Further Action is Taken

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

A restaurant that closed on Friday, January 22nd, will remain closed until further action is taken to correct the problems that led to an outbreak of Norovirus.  Cousins Subs in Neenah Wisconsin was closed after about 25 people who had eaten at the restaurant became ill.  Now, the Neenah Health Department reports that about 50 people have filed reports complaining of gastrointestinal illnesses after eating foods served at the shop.

According to Judy Crouch-Smolarek of the Health Department, Cousins Subs will stay closed until they comply with the required actions that are established by the Health Department.  She says that they are still collecting information about the Norovirus food poisoning outbreak, and that an inspector is working at the shop with a representative of Cousins Subs from Menomonee Falls which is the corporate office.  The franchise owner is cooperating in the efforts as well.

Patrons of the restaurant filed reports with the Health Department after becoming ill with food poisoning symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and headaches.

A North Carolina based casino has also closed recently due to a Norovirus outbreak.  According to reports, staff members are working frantically to kill the virus by thoroughly disinfecting all surfaces with bleach water in efforts to avoid scaring off more patrons.  Slot machines, restrooms, handrails, doorknobs and all other surfaces are being disinfected in order to prevent further spread of the virus.  The casino was not named in the news report, but is said to be a land-based casino.

Norovirus, or Norwalk, is one of the most common contaminants related to food poisoning and food safety incidents.  When a surface is contaminated, the virus can live for weeks if proper disinfection does not take place.  This puts anyone who touches the surface at risk, as well as foods that are prepared on that surface.  Foods that are tainted with Norovirus cause individuals to develop gastrointestinal symptoms, which are easily spread from person to person. If infected, you should obtain treatment and consult with a food poisoning attorney.

Norovirus is a direct result of improper sanitary measures.  When someone visits the toilet and fails to wash their hands the virus can be transmitted.  It is a fecal-oral agent, which means that food or water is contaminated with fecal matter of an infected individual.  Shellfish is often the source of a Norovirus outbreak, because boaters may dump raw sewage in the waters where these shellfish live.

Certain individuals are at risk for complications from Norovirus, so seeking medical attention if you develop symptoms is advised.

Norovirus Cause of San Antonio Bay Oyster Recall

Friday, December 18th, 2009

oyster-sandRecently, all oysters harvested in the San Antonio Bay area have been recalled due to illness caused by the Norovirus organism.  All oysters harvested on or after November 16th have been recalled by the Texas Department of State Health Services.  The hardest hit area sickened by the oysters were North and South Carolina, where more than 12 reports of Norovirus were issued to the United States FDA.

Norovirus, or “Norwalk-like viruses”, causes severe gastroenteritis in humans, and cannot be treated with antibiotics.  The infection usually comes on very quickly, with the affected person becoming nauseous or vomiting, accompanied by diarrhea and stomach cramps.  Fever may also be present, along with muscle aches, chills and a general feeling of malaise.

The recent outbreak that sickened people in the North and South Carolina areas due to oysters harvested in San Antonio Bay is being investigated by the FDA, CDC and state officials in an effort to determine where this Norovirus originated.  All consumers who purchased oysters with packaging that indicates they came from this area are being urged by the FDA to discard them.

Norovirus usually lasts only a few days, and is not a serious threat to health, although it can be.  Severe dehydration is a big risk with this form of food poisoning, and is most dangerous to the very young, elderly people and those with a compromised immune system.  While Norovirus food poisoning is usually not fatal, in rare instances it can be.

Many people are unaware that they may be eligible for compensation if they become ill from foods that were eaten in restaurants, daycares or other public places.  Additionally, food that is purchased in a store that is contaminated with Norovirus where it originated is cause for concern.  When you are sickened by any foods due to the negligence of those who manufactured or prepared it, you may be compensated for medical costs and other expenses.

Norovirus is very contagious, and easily spread between people.  Frequent hand washing and good hygienic practices should be a implemented to reduce the risk of spreading the infection to others.  When you become ill due to Norovirus and feel that you contracted the illness at a restaurant or through food you purchases, contact a reputable food poisoning attorney at once.  Those responsible for your illness should be held accountable for any expenses related to your sickness.