Life-Threatening Virus Outbreak Is Spreading Quickly; Here's What You Need To Know

August 07, 2018

According to health officials, a norovirus has infected possibly hundreds of people. The original outbreak was believed to be connected to the McDonald's lettuce outbreak.

Health investigators have determined that the outbreak was not linked to the fast food chain. In fact, it was due to a human transmission of norovirus that likely caused possibly hundreds of people to become sick at McDonald's.

“Based on our current evidence, we believe it was due to human contamination rather than any one particular food or drink item,” Tara Rybka, public health educator with the county, told Food Safety News.

Samples were collected from the patients who were taken to the hospital, and they tested positive for the virus. The lab results were confirmed by the North Carolina State Laboratory of Public Health, according to the Transylvania County Public Health Department.

Individuals who have come in close contact with people who were at McDonald's may likely get the virus as well. There have been reports of illnesses among people who have been near the infected customers.

At this time, it is unclear how the highly contagious virus spread. Rybka did not disclose if it was from a McDonald's employee. Norovirus can spread to other people by contaminated foods or other items before the person even shows or feels symptoms.

At this time, the outbreak is only at a McDonald's in Transylvania County, North Carolina. However, there have been over 70 cases and over 200 people calling the health department reporting their symptoms: severe nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Many of these cases reported consuming the food or beverage at a McDonald's restaurant in Brevard, NC.

Health officials have not reported if these outbreaks at these two separate McDonald's is related. Also, officials have not confirmed if the outbreaks are linked to the ongoing nationwide outbreak of Cyclosporiasis found in Fresh Express salad mix; which McDonald's uses this salad mix.

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