Norovirus in doughnuts suspected in sickening local residents

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN

BG Independent News

 

About 30 cases of possible norovirus from doughnuts are being investigated in Wood County.

More than 200 people have reportedly been sickened by a fast spreading norovirus outbreak that started at a Maumee doughnut shop. Lucas County Health Department began investigating after patients reporting stomach flu symptoms were found to have eaten food from Mama C’s Donuts, 924 Conant St.

The Wood County Health District is investigating if the approximately dozen illnesses reported to its office this week are a result of the norovirus, according to Alex Aspacher, spokesperson for the health district.

At least two Wood County business – one being Grounds for Thought, on South Main Street in Bowling Green – purchase doughnuts from Mama C’s, and has purged its shop of the pastries.

“Grounds has done everything they needed to do,” Aspacher said. “They have been very cooperative.”

The virus, which causes stomach flu like symptoms, spreads very easily, he said. So Grounds for Thought has been working closely with health district staff.

Kelly Wicks, who owns Grounds with his wife Laura, said the product was pulled and staff sanitized as instructed. “We’re working with them very closely,” he said of the health district.

Wicks said the owners of Mama C’s are very conscientious and hard-working.

“I feel bad for the owner of Mama C’s,” he said this morning. Ground for Thought has found the doughnut shop to be very dependable and plans to continue serving the business’ goods. “This is an unfortunate situation and we stand behind Mama C’s.”

The other Wood County location that purchases doughnuts from the Maumee shop is the Marathon gas station at the corner of Ohio 25 and Roachton Road in Perrysburg.

Symptoms of norovirus include vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, fever, and body aches. Anyone currently experiencing the symptoms should call the health district at 419-354-4306.

Often referred to as the “stomach bug,” norovirus illness can make a person feel extremely sick with diarrhea and vomiting many times a day. Some people may get severely dehydrated, especially young children, the elderly, and people with other illnesses.

Each year, norovirus causes 56,000 to 71,000 hospitalizations and 570 to 800 deaths, mostly in young children and the elderly.

Norovirus spreads very easily and quickly, and people can easily infect others. People are contagious from the moment they begin feeling sick and for the first few days after they recover. The virus can stay on objects and surfaces and still infect people for days or weeks. It can survive some disinfectants, making it hard to get rid of.

According to information from the Wood County Health District, norovirus can spread to others by:

  • Having direct contact with an infected person, for example, touching an infected person while caring for them.
  • Eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated with norovirus.
  • Touching objects that have norovirus on them and then putting your fingers in your mouth.
  • Sharing utensils or cups with people who are infected with norovirus.

There’s no vaccine to prevent norovirus infection and no drug to treat it. People who have norovirus illness should drink plenty of liquids to replace fluid loss and prevent dehydration.

Five tips to prevent norovirus from spreading:

  • Practice proper hand hygiene. Always wash your hands carefully with soap and water after using the toilet and changing diapers, and before eating, preparing, or handling food. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can be used in addition to hand washing. But, they should not be used as a substitute for washing with soap and water.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables and cook seafood thoroughly. Carefully wash fruits and vegetables before preparing and eating them. Cook oysters and other shellfish thoroughly before eating them. Be aware that noroviruses are relatively resistant. They can survive temperatures as high as 140°F and quick steaming processes that are often used for cooking shellfish. Food that might be contaminated with norovirus should be thrown out. Keep sick infants and children out of areas where food is being handled and prepared.
  • When you are sick, do not prepare food or care for others. You should not prepare food for others or provide healthcare while you are sick and for at least 2 to 3 days after you recover. This also applies to sick workers in schools, daycares, and other places where they may expose people to norovirus.
  • Clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces. After throwing up or having diarrhea, immediately clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces. Use a chlorine bleach solution with a concentration of 1000–5000 ppm (5–25 tablespoons of household bleach [5.25%] per gallon of water) or other disinfectant registered as effective against norovirus by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
  • Wash laundry thoroughly. Immediately remove and wash clothes or linens that may be contaminated with vomit or feces.
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