Illinois health dept investigates norovirus outbreak linked to dollar burrito event

Northwestern University students who consumed burritos at last week's event reported symptoms of norovirus

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A combination of representational images showing an illustration of a virus (left) and a picture of a burrito. — Unsplash/Pixabay/Files
A combination of representational images showing an illustration of a virus (left) and a picture of a burrito. — Unsplash/Pixabay/Files

The Evanston Health and Human Services Department in the US state of Illinois has launched an investigation into a norovirus outbreak linked to the "$1 Burrito event" for Northwestern University students that was held last Saturday

The event was organised between 1pm to 8pm and attendees were served tacos from a local taco shop called Big Wig Tacos, Fox News reported.

The following Monday after the event, the city’s health department began receiving complaints from students who reported experiencing stomach cramps, vomiting, and diarrhoea after consuming food from the event.

In a news statement, the department stated that it had started "an immediate and thorough inspection of the food establishment."

Big Wig Tacos stated that it had assisted the Evanston Health Department with its probe.

"While there have been reported cases, we are not certain the outbreak originated at our restaurant. Prior to the event, the Evanston Health Department completed a routine health inspection and found no issues with our establishment," the restaurant said in a news statement.

The restaurant also noted that norovirus outbreaks "are more common in settings like colleges and universities."

The restaurant added in the news release: "Nevertheless, we are taking immediate and comprehensive measures to address the situation. We are taking extra steps to thoroughly clean and sanitise, with a particular focus on areas that may be susceptible for the transmission of the virus."

According to the health department, the norovirus is a highly contagious virus that can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach pain and nausea that can affect people of all ages.

Symptoms usually appear 12 to 48 hours after exposure and recovery usually takes one to three days.

According to the federal Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the virus spreads easily through direct contact with an infected person, eating or drinking contaminated food or beverages and touching contaminated surfaces or objects before touching one's mouth.

The CDC recommends washing your hands and rinsing fruits and vegetables as preventative measures.