Wake County Public Health and Wake County Environmental Services are alerting the public of three confirmed cases of norovirus, all linked to a local Raleigh restaurant. Norovirus is a very contagious illness that can make people sick soon after coming in contact with an infected person, eating contaminated food, or touching contaminated surfaces. All individuals who became sick are recovering. Before they became ill, residents visited Sushi Nine, an Asian restaurant located at 3812 Western Blvd., Raleigh.
No personal information will be disclosed.
“Unfortunately, norovirus can spread very easily, especially during the winter months when people come together for holiday gatherings and parties which include a lot of meal prep and catering,” said Wake County Public Health Director Rebecca Kaufman. “We continue to work closely with customers who visited Sushi Nine, restaurant staff and our partners with NCDHHS to determine the source and extent of the outbreak.”
The first person to report to Wake County about feeling ill after eating in the restaurant was Friday, Dec. 1. Staff immediately responded and initiated the investigation. Soon after more reports reached Wake County’s Public Health Communicable Disease team. In total 241 complaints were received, and all of those diners reported visiting the restaurant between Saturday, Nov. 28 and Tuesday, Dec. 5. Staff have been able to interview more than 170 of the complainants so far and all have been asked to give stool samples, the only way to lab test for norovirus. Only three people provided samples so far and all three samples came back positive for the norovirus. The County is continuing to investigate all complaints.
The restaurant voluntarily closed for deep cleaning on Tuesday, Dec. 5. It has since reopened to the public. An environmental health consultant is conducting daily visits to the establishment. No new complaints have been reported since the restaurant reopened on Friday, Dec. 8.
Wake County is currently investigating all potential sources of exposure. And so far, the investigation is not pointing to a single type of food that might have been the source, as those who reported becoming sick ate a variety of menu items. It is common with norovirus investigations to not be able to narrow down to a specific source of contamination.
Wake County still encourages anyone who visited this restaurant between Wednesday, Nov. 28, through Monday, Dec. 5, to monitor themselves for symptoms and seek medical care with their primary care physician or primary care clinic if serious symptoms occur.
Anyone who visited the restaurant during this timeframe and became sick is encouraged to call Wake County Public Health at 919-250-1029, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Norovirus is a contagious virus usually transmitted from having direct contact with someone infected, consuming contaminated food or water or touching contaminated surfaces and then putting your unwashed hands in your mouth.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms of the virus include:
- Stomach pain
- Body aches
As we head into the holiday season, where many plan to come together for parties and family gatherings, it’s important to take the necessary precautions to protect yourself and loved ones.
You can avoid catching or spreading norovirus and other similar viruses by:
- Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Hand sanitizer does not work well against norovirus.
- Handling and preparing food safely by washing fruits and vegetables well, cooking oysters or shellfish thoroughly and routinely cleaning and sanitizing kitchen utensils, counters and surfaces.
- Avoiding preparing or handling food when sick. You should wait at least two days after symptoms subside before preparing food or providing healthcare to others.
- Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces often, especially when someone has been sick. You should also wash clothes or linens immediately if someone has been sick on them.
For more information on norovirus, visit cdc.gov/norovirus.