Protecting the Public through Common Sense Care
Norovirus outbreaks are common throughout the food service industry. Restaurants of every size have been threatened by the virus this year, a few including:
- Chipotle Mexican Grill in Billerica, MA
- Carrabbas in Lansing, MI
- Hogan Brothers in Northfield, MN
- Fiesta Mexicana Restaurant in Red Wing, MN
- Maggianos in Bellevue, WA
Firestorm expert council member, Dr. Donald Donahue JR., DHEd, MBA, discusses the characteristics of the virus and preventative measures restaurants must take to decrease the likelihood of a viral spread.
Norovirus is a somewhat common and very contagious virus that can infect anyone. Transmission can occur via an infected person, contaminated food or water or by touching contaminated surfaces. Norovirus is widely known as the “cruise ship virus” that causes stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting.
Restaurants, family gatherings, and other places where people gather and eat are prime locations for the spread of this highly transmissible virus. A restaurant can reduce the possibility of norovirus spread by frequent cleaning, regular handwashing by staff and by sending home anyone who exhibits symptoms consistent with norovirus infection. It is possible that a given individual can be infected and contagious prior to exhibiting symptoms, so there may be nothing that can be done to prevent all disease transmission.
There is no treatment for gastroenteritis caused by norovirus infection. The most common complication is dehydration, which may require medical care if allowed to progress. Treatment includes replacing fluids lost from vomiting and diarrhea and correcting electrolyte imbalance. Oral rehydration fluids and giving fluids intravenously are used for severe dehydration.
In the case of a norovirus outbreak, sanitizing the premises and cooking utensils, discarding potentially tainted food, increased handwashing and renewed surveillance of employee health are the recommended actions. Of course, prevention through early performance of these actions is the preferable alternative.
Food borne illness identification, prevention and management is similar in many ways to insect borne illness outbreak management. Learn more at our next Virtual Stress Test in June on Communicable Illness.
On Tuesday, June 14 from 2-4 p.m., join Firestorm President, Jim Satterfield, and Expert Council Members, Dr. Donahue and Dr. Steven Cunnion, for an interactive Virtual Exercise on Communicable Illness. In this next installment in our series of groundbreaking, web-based, stress tests, our expert panel will test your team’s response to the potential impacts of a disease outbreak including impacts on physical infrastructure, lost work, lost revenue, lost wages and lost personnel. In a pandemic, everyone feels the impact whether they become infected or not. Are you prepared? Gather your teams and join us on June 14.