Norovirus Outbreak Linked To Illegally Operating Caterer

December 17, 2008

Source of Article:  http://www.wxii12.com/health/18298258/detail.html

WINSTON-SALEM -- State health officials are cautioning North Carolinians about food-borne illness, after three confirmed norovirus outbreaks, one of which was linked to a caterer operating illegally from her home in the western Piedmont, have sickened more than 50 people and affected at least nine counties.

Locally, those counties include Forsyth, Caldwell, and some parts of the western Piedmont.

Last week, Forty-two residents and workers at The Oaks At Forsyth nursing home on Bethesda Road became ill after a virus outbreak was reported at the facility. The outbreak at The Oaks was not related to the illegal catering service, Forsyth County Health Director Dr. Tim Monroe said.

 

Noroviruses are a group of viruses that cause the "stomach flu" or gastroenteritis, and cannot be seen or tasted but spread easily from person to person, according to health officials.

“More than a million North Carolinians experience a norovirus-related illness each year,” said State Health Director Leah Devlin. “Food is a major part of the holidays for many people, and I want to remind everyone of steps they can take to prepare, serve and enjoy the food more safely during this season."

Linda Means, communicable disease nursing supervisor at the Forsyth County Health Department, said last week that the outbreak at The Oaks carried all the signs of a norovirus outbreak common in nursing facilities.

Means said the virus was most common during the colder part of the season and said strict hand washing was the most effective way to prevent its spread.

Terry Pierce, director of the Division of Environmental Health, said that residents who hire caterers for holiday parties should be especially careful, and need to make sure the caterers are properly permitted or licensed.

 

 

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