A likely norovirus outbreak involving a Jimmy’s John’s restaurant in Garden City, KS, is under investigation by state officials who are asking for the public’s help. State and local health officials want anyone who dined at the Jimmy John’s Restaurant in Garden City between Dec. 10 and Dec. 24, 2013, to participate in an online survey.

The survey is part of an investigation by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), along with the Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA), into reports of gastrointestinal illnesses being experienced by Jimmy John’s customers from those dates.

“To determine the cause of illness, it is important for us to get information from those who became ill as well as those that did NOT become ill,” the request to the public states. Jimmy John’s customers are being asked to complete the survey regardless of whether or not they became ill.

People are also being asked to complete a separate survey for EACH meal purchased from the Garden City location between Dec. 10 and Dec. 24, 2013. A separate survey should also be completed for each meal for other family members who ate at that location during that time period. On the last page of the survey, there is a link that will allow input information for any additional meals or family members.

Officials said that KDA’s Food Safety and Lodging Program has conducted an inspection of the restaurant and has been working closely with Jimmy John’s employees to respond to this outbreak.

“We are suspecting that this outbreak has been caused by norovirus,” said D. Charles Hunt, state epidemiologist at KDHE. Hunt said this is based on the symptoms of illness being reported, the large number of persons reported to be ill, and the period of time between food being eaten and the onset of illness, or incubation period.

Norovirus typically causes gastrointestinal illness such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea and low-grade fever and is easily passed from person to person or through food that has been contaminated during preparation. It often causes large outbreaks, affecting a high percentage of persons who were exposed.

The best way to prevent norovirus is proper hand-washing, excluding ill persons from preparing food, and proper cleaning and sanitizing of food preparation areas.

Members of the public who need to contact local health officials about this outbreak can call the Finney County Health Department at (620) 272-3600.