Norovirus and listeria, two illnesses that can lead to gastrointestinal distress, have caused food establishment shutdown and food recalls due to contamination. So far we have seen plenty of food recalls and food store closures because of listeria and norovirus in an attempt to reduce contamination and the spread of these highly contagious illnesses.
Carrabba’s restaurant finally reopened after a temporary shutdown as their customers were reporting illness. Greg Cabose, community services supervisor for the Barry-Eaton District Health Department, explained, “For it to be considered an outbreak, the definition that we follow is it has to be two or more unrelated people that have something in common.”
The restaurant voluntarily shut down for sanitization purposes and said in a statement, “We’ve sanitized the entire restaurant and discarded all food that was opened and prepared, which was the majority of the food. We’ve been working closely with the health department, which has confirmed we’ve taken the appropriate measures and that it is safe for us to reopen today.”
It is speculated that norovirus was responsible for the illnesses as many customers reported similar symptoms of diarrhea and vomiting. Cabose concluded, “It could have been a customer that brought this in to the facility, it could have been an employee, it could have even been a product that was processed at a plant somewhere else and then brought into the facility as a food product.”
A large food recall was announced in Portland where 47 million pounds of food were contaminated with listeria. Ajinomoto Windsor made the recall of frozen food products, including meat and poultry, due to listeria. The contamination began in Washington, and the CDC linked at least seven illnesses to the listeria-contaminated food.
Consuming contaminated food with listeria can result in listeriosis, which is particularly dangerous for seniors, pregnant women, and those with weakened immune systems.
Although both norovirus and listeria are transmitted through contaminated food and can result in gastrointestinal symptoms, they do have unique differences, which are important to recognize in order to choose the appropriate treatment.
Common symptoms of norovirus include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, stomach pains, fever, headache, and body aches. Symptoms of listeria are headache, stomach ache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions.
A person infected with norovirus will develop symptoms within 12 to 48 hours and will often recover within one to three days. For listeria, flu-like symptoms first appear within two months of consumption of contaminated food, and medical treatment should be sought after immediately as it could result in complications.
Listeria is particularly dangerous for pregnant women as it can contribute to miscarriage or the baby can develop a life-threatening infection within a few days after birth.
Norovirus is caused by eating contaminated food, drinking contaminated water, touching your mouth after it has touched something contaminated, and being in close contact with someone who is already infected with norovirus. Listeria causes are quite similar and include ingesting raw vegetables contaminated from the soil, eating infected animal meat, consuming unpasteurized dairy products, and eating certain processed foods if they have been contaminated. Listeria can also get transmitted from mother to the baby.
The causes for both illnesses are associated with their transmission, so it is best to avoid the abovementioned factors as much as possible, especially if you are a person in high-risk category.
Norovirus is diagnosed through symptom evaluation and a stool sample analysis. Listeria, on the other hand, is diagnosed with a blood test and, in some cases, urine or spinal fluid will be analyzed as well.
Treatment for norovirus involves drinking lots of fluids to prevent dehydration, avoiding contact with others as it is highly contagious, getting plenty of rest, and consuming a lighter diet for the time being. In some cases, you may take over-the-counter flu medications to ease the associated norovirus symptoms.
Listeriosis is treated with antibiotics when symptoms are present. If there are no symptoms, then no treatment is necessary unless the individual is in a high-risk category for complications.
Prevention of both listeria and norovirus involves avoiding the consumption of contaminated food as much as possible. This involves cooking food at proper temperatures, storing food correctly, washing your hands frequently, and making yourself aware of any recalls and restaurant closures.
With norovirus in particular, the odds of contracting the illness are higher in close quarters like cruise ships or retirement homes, and so if you stay in such conditions for prolonged periods of time use extra caution.
Always avoid individuals who are sick especially if they have diarrhea or are vomiting. Although norovirus will go away on its own, it can be quite dreadful, so avoiding it is highly advised.