More Than 240 Sushi Restaurant Patrons Complain Of Illness

A Raleigh, North Carolina sushi restaurant, Sushi Nine, is at the center of more than 240 customer reports of illness, reaching back as far as November 28, when the first symptoms were reported. Local Wake County Environmental Services confirmed three norovirus cases as being linked to the restaurant, but the remaining cases are still under investigation. The restaurant voluntarily closed for 48 hours on December 5, to perform sanitizing and allow inspectors to examine the premises for clues to the source of the outbreak. No new cases were reported when the restaurant reopened on December 8 following that deep cleaning.

Although the environmental services agency interviewed more than 170 customers of the restaurant who reported getting sick, pinpointing the exact cause of the outbreak may not be possible. The diners ate a variety of foods, and the agency notes that narrowing down the initial source of contamination is frequently difficult.

Tracing the outbreak is ongoing

Restaurant manager Mac Schreiber told NBC News he felt the outbreak originated with an infected person who entered the establishment and not from the kitchens of Sushi Nine. The virus can survive for several days on hard surfaces and is easy to contract in crowded environments. Wake County Public Health recommends that anyone eating at the restaurant between November 28 and December 5 contact their healthcare provider if they have any potential symptoms.

The number one cause of food-related illness in the United States, norovirus often spreads via contaminated surfaces and infected people. Its onset is marked by such symptoms as diarrhea and vomiting, typically occurring within 12 to 48 hours. The infection poses a risk of severe dehydration. Contamination often stems from infected food service personnel or tainted foods, amplifying the potential for transmission. Handwashing with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds is the best defense against illness caused by norovirus; the CDC notes that hand sanitizer may not be as effective in eliminating the virus.