An outbreak of foodborne illness at a Mexican restaurant in Holland, MI was confirmed to be norovirus, the Ottawa County Health Department reported on Tuesday.
The Ottawa County Health Department began an investigation and cleaned the restaurant earlier this week after customers reported symptoms of vomiting, nausea, cramps, and diarrhea. More than 200 individuals have come forward with symptoms since last week. Nearly all patients recovered within a day, but one individual was hospitalized for dehydration.
Officials are no longer seeking any reports of illness on this case. However, Susan Felgner, representative to the health department, noted, “[t]he overwhelming public response was critical…to the investigation.”
The owners of Margarita’s Mexican Restaurant have voluntarily closed its doors and have not announced when it will re-open.
Norovirus is a highly contagious disease transmitted through contaminated food and water or contact with infected surfaces. The virus causes gastroenteritis, an inflammation of the stomach, and leads to symptoms such as stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea, and fever.
There are approximately 21 million cases of norovirus in the United States every year, making it the most common cause of foodborne illness. While the disease is not serious in most patients, it can be a concern for very young, old or immuno-compromised patients. Eight hundred individuals die from the disease every year.
There is no specific treatment for norovirus, but the CDC recommends that those infected take careful measures to replenish fluids. Patients suffering from severe infections may receive rehydration therapy.
CDC officials recommend careful hand washing with soap and water as the best way to prevent infection with norovirus, which lives in the stool and vomit of infected persons, particularly after using the toilet and before eating or handling food.