La Carreta Food Poisoning: 300+ Reports of Norovirus in Summerville, SC
The South Carolina Dept. of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) is reporting that an outbreak of food poisoning that sickened over 300 patrons has been traced to Norovirus. The outbreak led to many people seeking medical attention, and at least 10 of those sickened have been confirmed to have Norovirus. Norovirus is very difficult to detect and not identified in routine stool culture or by most medical facilities. Stool samples have to be sent to specialized labs to determine if they contain Norovirus. Norovirus can exist on cold surfaces touched by an infected person, and transmitted easily. Most restaurant outbreaks of Norovirus are due to a sick employee – hence the signs that mandate employees wash their hands before returning to work. Norovirus is spread in fecal material (poop).
SCDHEC also confirmed that La Carreta was closed on December 5th, and stayed closed for ten days while the investigation unfolded. La Carreta Mexican Restaurant has re-opened and has passed all inspections.
The origin of the Norovirus has yet to be determined, but usually involves a sick employee in order to spread so widely and pervasively in a restaurant is such a short period of time.
Recent years have seen some other large Norovirus outbreaks, including two that led to food poisoning lawsuits against Chipotle – one in New England and one in Simi Valley, California. The food poisoning law firm, Ron Simon & Associates filed Norovirus lawsuits in those outbreaks, and is now interviewing (with their local counsel) patrons of La Carreta Mexican Restaurant.