Sunday, December 17, 2006

Norovirus at Olive Garden

Health officials are beginning to speculate on the cuase of the recent illnesses resulting in the indefinite closing of the Castleton Olive Garden. The most likley suspect at this point is norovirus, not a food-borne illness such as e.coli. A robust and easily spreadible virus would explain why large parties of people were ill even though they had different food.

Health officials said they still were trying to identify the illness and the cause, but the state health department said that a prime suspect is gastroenteritis, possibly caused by norovirus. "You've probably heard about the illnesses on the cruise ships. This is the same type of thing, possibly. The investigation is still ongoing," the state health department's Scott Gilliam said Friday. Gilliam said norovirus spreads from person to person easily. "Just by going out to a place to eat or visiting friends, you can contract the illness pretty easily, and it mimics food-borne illness," he said.

Officials will assess the situation on Monday to determine when the restaurant can re-open.

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