The evidence points to a Norovirus contamination at a buffet-style Golden Corral restaurant in east Casper as the source, health department director Robert Harrington told Food Safety News.
Thus far, none of the 167 self-reported cases have been clinically diagnosed. Results from tests should begin coming in next week.
The emergency room of the local hospital reported a “remarkable spike” last week in illnesses featuring symptoms of Norovirus infection, Harrington said. Those suffering from infection may experience diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting.
Around 1 p.m. Mountain Time, Golden Corral announced a voluntary 24-hour shutdown to sanitize the premises. Harrington cautioned management that a temporary closure cannot guarantee eliminating the contamination, but praised the move as “doing the right thing.”
The restaurant opened approximately one month ago, Harrington said. Local health officials performed their first operational inspection of the facilities on Wednesday following the spate of illness reports.
A news story published Wednesday in the Casper Star-Tribune featured an interview with a Golden Corral patron who noted dirty plates being served to customers. When he addressed the concern to an employee, he said he was told that the restaurant’s dishwasher was broken.
Harrington said that the dishwasher was functioning properly when officials inspected the restaurant on Wednesday. Inspectors did not note any unclean plates, either.
Health officials will be back at Golden Corral Friday to inspect the facility once again before it re-opens for dinner.© Food Safety News