TUESDAY, April 18 (HealthDay News) -- A Michigan food handler infected with norovirus who returned to work hours after vomiting may have spread the infection to 100 other people during a 2005 outbreak, according to a report published online April 14 in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
J. Kettlehut Payne, M.P.H., of the Kent County Health Department in Grand Rapids, Mich., and colleagues report that 23 people developed gastroenteritis after eating a large submarine sandwich catered by a national franchise chain on May 3. Fifty-five more people fell ill after lunches on May 5 at a publishing company lunch, and nine more fell ill after a May 4 meal, both catered by the same restaurant.
Analysis of stool specimens linked the outbreak to a food handler who returned to work on May 3, just a few hours after vomiting. Investigators found that the food preparation sink was used by employees to wash their hands and the sick employee sliced the sandwich lettuce, which was also washed in the same food prep sink.
"These outbreaks demonstrate a general lack of education regarding norovirus," the authors conclude. "The new Michigan guidelines, issued in 2005, recommend that employees who have been ill with suspected norovirus not return to work for 48-72 hours after symptoms have ended."