Kansas: Health officials investigate ‘suspected’ norovirus outbreak linked to Garden City Jimmy John’s
The Finney County Health Department, along with the Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA) and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), are investigating a gastrointestinal outbreak that has sickened at least 110 people as of Friday at noon.
Initial reports suggest a link between the illnesses and the Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches restaurant in Garden City, Kansas.
“We are suspecting that this outbreak has been caused by norovirus,” said D. Charles Hunt, State Epidemiologist at KDHE. Hunt said this is based on the symptoms of illness being reported (diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and muscle aches), the large number of persons reported to be ill, and the period of time between food being eaten and the onset of illness, or incubation period.
The Finney County Health Department and KDHE are contacting diners by telephone and an online survey to determine who has been ill. An online survey has been developed, and anyone – whether they have been ill or not – who ate food from the Jimmy John’s in Garden City between Dec. 10 and Dec. 24, 2013, is urged to complete the survey, which can accessed at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/gardencityillness.
Norovirus is a highly contagious viral illness that often goes by other names, such as viral gastroenteritis, stomach flu, and food poisoning.
The symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and some stomach cramping. Sometimes people additionally have a low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and a general sense of tiredness. The illness often begins suddenly, and the infected person may feel very sick. In most people, the illness is self-limiting with symptoms lasting for about 1 or 2 days. In general, children experience more vomiting than adults do.
Norovirus is spread person to person particularly in crowded, closed places. Norovirus is typically spread through contaminated food andwater, touching surfaces or objects contaminated with norovirus and then putting your hand or fingers in your mouth and close contact with someone who is vomiting or has diarrhea.
Norovirus causes more than 20 million illnesses annually, and it is the leading cause of gastroenteritis outbreaks in the United States.
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