Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Norovirus Sickens Hundreds at Dinner Theatre, Clean-Up Costly

A Kansas City dinner theatre was the site this past month of a huge norovirus outbreak.  Between Jan 15th and Jan 19th, more than 600 attendees and employees became ill.  The theatre company spent some $40,000 to clean/disinfect the location in order to mitigate the virus.

The source of the norovirus is not known, so it could have been a patron or an employee.  Food is served buffet style so the buffet tables could have easily served as a contamination point.

Incidents like this are reminders of how contagious norovirus is and how difficult it can be to control in these types of settings.  (Give me another reason to avoid buffet style service).

Kansas City Star
New Theatre Restaurant spends $40,000 on cleanup after more than 600 sickened
February 1, 2016 5:34 PM
By Joyce Smith
- So far more than 600 people have reported illness after attending performances at the Overland Park theater
- Most of them reported becoming sick after attending shows between Jan. 15 and 19
- Germicide Pro spent six hours cleaning the facility on Friday

 As the norovirus outbreak investigation at Overland Park’s New Theatre Restaurant expands to include more than 600 people sickened, the theater wants to assure patrons that it’s safe to return.

On Friday the theater was cleaned by Kearney-based Germicide Pro, a commercial and residential disinfecting and mold remediation company. Germicide Pro spent six hours Friday working on the facility at 9229 Foster St. with an EPA-registered disinfectant that “kills norovirus and is safe for food establishments,” according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. It cost the theater $40,000.

Health officials from the state, Johnson County and Overland Park were also at the theater Friday to “educate staff about norovirus, oversee cleanup and observe food-safety practices.”

“We wanted to stop it, to make sure it was all safe. Nothing is more important to us than the comfort and safety of our guests,” said Rob McGraw, New Theatre vice president for sales and marketing.

Four people who became ill after a Jan. 17 performance had laboratory specimens that confirmed norovirus. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has been working with the Kansas Department of Agriculture and the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment on the case and expanded its investigation to people who attended shows from Jan. 15 to present — whether they became ill or not.

So far during KDHE’s investigation, a majority of the illness reports were from people who attended New Theatre between Friday, Jan. 15, and Tuesday, Jan. 19. KDHE has not received any reports of people becoming ill who attended New Theatre after Jan. 27.

The theater holds about 625 people. Most of the food is served on a buffet, but servers bring drinks and desserts to the tables.

Norovirus is very contagious, and symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and stomach pain. A person develops symptoms 12 to 48 hours after being exposed, and most people get better within one to three days.

Norovirus is spread person to person (having contact with someone who is infected with norovirus), through contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces. Persons who are ill with norovirus symptoms should not prepare food or care for other persons. The best way to prevent the transmission of norovirus and other diseases is by proper hand washing.

Some New Theatre patrons were cautious and rescheduled for later performances. The theater said it also is offering to credit customers’ New Theatre accounts.

However, McGraw said the theater has continued to have “full houses.”

[With nearly 400 sick, norovirus investigation at New Theatre Restaurant expands]

[More than 100 people are sickened after norovirus outbreak at New Theatre Restaurant]
Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/news/business/biz-columns-blogs/cityscape/article57797308.html#storylink=cpy

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