Minnesota Health Officials Issue Statement to Food Poisoning News – Carleton College Norovirus Outbreak
Confirms Investigation of Specific Food Establishment linked to “Carleton College Outbreak”
In a statement to Food Poisoning News, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDOH) confirmed that they are currently investigating an outbreak that has sickened a large number of students at Carleton College. The outbreak has been linked to an area restaurant.
Over the past week, Carleton College, located in Northfield, Minnesota, has included by local and national media alike on the growing list of colleges and universities currently experiencing outbreaks of norovirus on campus. When asked what they believe caused the sudden onslaught of illness, general opinion of college students and area residents alike is that food from local eatery Hogan Brothers’ Acoustic Café* is the culprit.
Doug Schultz, Minnesota Department of Health Foodborne Disease Information Officer, said that officials have already “interviewed 58 patrons” of the restaurant, and that 39 of those individuals – or 67% – are “reporting illness” at this point.
However, “these [current] numbers could change,” said Schultz, noting that not all cases of illness being reported to MDOH may be associated with the outbreak.
The vast majority of people reporting symptoms to the Department of Health ate at Hogan Brothers’ on April 23rd. However, Schultz stated, a limited number of individuals who ate at the establishment on the 24th, 25th, and 26th of April have also reported similar symptoms. Regardless of the exact date, however, the cases generally occurred “within the same weekend” without many, if any, outliers.
Nevertheless, MDOH is “continuing to get calls from people who ate at the restaurant.” Schultz attributes the number of calls – at least in part – to the media coverage the outbreak is receiving.
As of Monday, MDOH was awaiting the test results from several stool samples, said Schultz.
Carleton: One of these Outbreaks is Not Like the Others
The Carleton outbreak differs from many of the rest. Unlike the outbreaks at Rochester, OSU (which was only able to rule certain causes out, but never identified the cause of the outbreak), Lafayette College, and Miami University of Ohio, the Carleton outbreak of illnesses is strongly suspected to be directly linked to cuisine from Hogan Brothers’ Acoustic Café.*
In typical campus outbreaks, close quarters, extensive person-to-person contact, repeated contact with surfaces that may harbor pathogens – such as gym equipment or the surface of a desk – and large communal cafeterias make spread of the disease incredibly easy. The amount of norovirus required to cover the top of a pin could cause up to 1,000 human infections, as only 18 norovirus particles are required to cause infection in a normal human being.
*Neither the Minnesota Department of Health nor any of its representatives identified the restaurant by name.