Evanston’s Big Wig Tacos & Burritos linked to Norovirus Outbreak

The Evanston Health and Human Services Department is investigating a Norovirus outbreak along with Northwestern University. Investigators have learned that people reported stomach cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea after eating at Big Wig Tacos & Burritos during an event on Saturday, November 18, at which the restaurant offered $1 burritos to students from the university. The event was held between 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. this past Saturday. Big Wig Tacos & Burritos has a location at 950 Church St. in downtown Evanston.

Soon afterward, the Evanston Health and Human Services Department began receiving complaints – prompting an immediate inspection of Big Wig Tacos & Burritos. The department reviewed the restaurant’s cleaning and sanitizing procedures and found that the restaurant does have an employee health policy.

Everyone who dined at Big Wig Tacos & Burritos in Evanston on Saturday, Nov. 18, is asked to complete this questionnaire, regardless of whether they got sick.

When someone talks about having “the stomach flu,” they are probably describing acute-onset gastroenteritis caused by one of the noroviruses, which are members of the “calcivirus” family (Caliciviridae). Noroviruses are entirely unrelated to influenza viruses.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that noroviruses cause nearly 21 million cases of acute gastroenteritis annually, making noroviruses the leading cause of gastroenteritis in adults in the United States. Norovirus is highly contagious and transmitted by infected individuals at an enormous rate. It is simple genetically and evolves quickly, and exposure does not lead to lasting immunity.

Nature has created an ingenious bug in norovirus. The round blue ball structure of norovirus is a protein surrounding the virus’s genetic material. The virus attaches to the outside of cells lining the intestine, and then transfers its genetic material into those cells. Once the genetic material has been transferred, norovirus reproduces, finally killing the human cells and releasing new copies of itself that attach to more cells of the intestine’s lining. 

The virus, due to its structure, is also very stable in the environment and is resistant to many sanitizers/disinfectants. It is a major concern for several sectors including health care, education, and tourism, and in food, shellfish, and produce. But most foodborne norovirus outbreaks occur in restaurants or institutional food service settings.

Norovirus:  Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Norovirus outbreaks. The Norovirus lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Norovirus and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $850 million for clients.  Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation.  Our Norovirus lawyers have litigated Norovirus cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a number of food products and restaurants.  

If you or a family member became ill with Norovirus after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark Norovirus attorneys for a free case evaluation.