Coastal Health District says 'highly contagious' virus likely to - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Coastal Health District says 'highly contagious' virus likely to blame for Pooler Jalapenos shutdown

(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)
POOLER, GA (WTOC) -

The Coastal Health District says that their investigation into a Jalapenos restaurant in Pooler has revealed that the cause of multiple complaints of gastrointestinal illnesses was likely norovirus.

The Jalapenos in Morgan's Corner posted on their Facebook, as well as a physical copy on the door, that the restaurant had 'voluntarily closed' amidst an investigation that began last Thursday and that "there is no link to a food-borne illness". 

Chatham County Health Department, which is spearheading the investigation, has since asked for the removal of those notices, suspect Norovirus of based off of interviews with several people all suffering the same symptoms and duration of illness.

Norovirus is a highly contagious virus which is the leading cause of illness outbreaks from contaminated food in the United States. Symptoms can include vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, stomach pain, fever, headache, and body aches. The Health District admits that there is a possibility that there could be additional causes for the gastrointestinal illnesses, a fact which remains to be determined. 

The management of Jalapenos and Chatham County Environmental Health are taking the necessary steps to ensure that the restaurant is educating staff on safe food handling practices and an in-depth cleaning of food equipment to prevent a similar spread of disease in the future. 

Read the Health District's statement below:

We have been investigating the situation since last Thursday, July 5, when we first became aware that some patrons of Jalapeno’s Mexican Restaurant in Pooler were complaining of gastrointestinal illness. Environmental health specialists conducted environmental assessments at the facility to try to determine a cause. Environmental health specialists and members of the Coastal Health District epidemiology team interviewed several patrons complaining of illness. Based on the information we have, including symptoms and duration of illnesses, we suspect that the likely cause is norovirus, a highly contagious virus which – according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is – the leading cause of illness and outbreaks from contaminated food in the United States. Norovirus can spread quickly and symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, stomach pain, fever, headache, and body aches. It is possible that there are additional causes for the gastrointestinal illness experienced by some patrons; however, that has not yet been determined. We are awaiting confirmatory testing to determine the agent or agents that caused the gastrointestinal illness.

Chatham County Environmental Health and the management of Jalapenos are working together to ensure that the restaurant is taking all appropriate steps – including but not limited to education of staff on safe food handling practices and a thorough cleaning of food service equipment –  to prevent a similar occurrence in the future.

As of July 9, 2018, the Health District received 30 calls with 82 reported illnesses so far. 

Read more about the Norovirus and what it does to the body here

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