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Doughnut shop norovirus outbreak victim count nears 250

With the number of victims nearing 250, public health officials in the Toledo area say they expect more illnesses to be reported in a norovirus outbreak linked to a suburban doughnut shop.

Health Commissioner Eric Zgodinski, of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Health Department, met briefly with media Thursday, saying Mama C’s Donuts & Coffee in Maumee, OH, remains closed. The owners voluntarily closed Tuesday after health officials notified them of illnesses among customers.

Thursday morning the victim count was 214. By the time Zgodinski met with reporters later in the day the number was “closer to 240.” He said he is not aware of secondary infections, meaning the sick people did not contract norovirus from contact with other outbreak victims.

The doughnut shop owners have been cooperating fully with health inspectors and are working on deep cleaning the business, Zgodinski said. The doughnut makers hired a professional cleaning company for the job.

Before Mama C’s can resume operations, the health department must sign off regarding cleaning and other conditions. That could happen today, the health commissioner said.

Health department officials became aware of the norovirus outbreak when local hospitals notified them about a number of people who became ill after eating Mama C’s food from Aug. 4 through Aug. 7.

The health department tested “specimens” from the restaurant,  Zgodinski said, according to WTOL-TV Channel 11, a CBS affiliate news station in Toledo. Three of the samples were positive for norovirus, WTOL reported.

Anyone who ate anything from Mama C’s Donuts & Coffee in recent days and developed symptoms of norovirus is asked to contact the health department at 419-213-4264 or 419-213-4161.

Norovirus illness can make you feel extremely sick with diarrhea and vomiting many times a day, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Norovirus symptoms usually subside after a couple of days. However, it can lead to severe dehydration and serious, sometimes life-threatening illnesses in the elderly or people with suppressed immune systems, according to the CDC.

Other important facts about norovirus, as listed by the CDC, include:

  • It only takes a very small amount of norovirus particles, fewer than 100, to make you sick;
  • People with norovirus illness shed billions of virus particles in their stool and vomit and can easily infect others;
  • You are contagious from the moment you begin feeling sick and for the first few days after you recover;
  • Norovirus can spread quickly in enclosed places like daycare centers, nursing homes, schools and cruise ships;
  • Norovirus can stay on objects and surfaces and still infect people for days or weeks, and
  • Norovirus can survive some disinfectants, making it hard to get rid of.

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