Boston inspectors find norovirus at Chipotle tied to BC outbreak

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BOSTON (AP) — Public health officials in Boston say lab testing has confirmed the presence of norovirus at a Chipotle restaurant in Brighton, near the Boston College campus where more than 120 students were stricken by the gastrointestinal bug.

The Boston Public Health Commission issued the statement Wednesday afternoon following one by the university’s director of health services stating they’ve identified more than 120 students with symptoms consistent with norovirus.

The restaurant, located in the city’s Cleveland Circle area, has been temporarily closed.

A spokesman for the Denver-based Chipotle Mexican Grill chain says the Boston College illnesses are likely isolated and not related to the E. coli cases that have turned up in nine states and has been linked to its restaurants. That outbreak has sickened 52 people in nine states, with the most recent illness starting on Nov. 13.

City officials say a restaurant employee was sick during a shift last week and may have caused the outbreak of the gastrointestinal illness that causes vomiting and diarrhea.

Boston College says all students who reported symptoms have been tested for both E. Coli and norovirus, and that results will not be available for at least two days.

William Christopher, commissioner of the department, said at a briefing Tuesday that it was not immediately known if the restaurant’s management was aware of the employee’s symptoms. The restaurant’s permit to operate has been suspended by the city and a disinfection process has begun, Christopher said.

People can get norovirus from an infected person, contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The virus is very contagious and can spread quickly in places such as daycare centers and cruise ships, the agency says. Each year, it causes 19 to 21 million illnesses.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said late last week the outbreak of E. coli tied to Chipotle has sickened 52 people in nine states so far. The first cases were reported at the end of October in Oregon and Washington, and the most recent illness began on Nov. 13.