An outbreak of norovirus infections that has sickened more than 600 who ate at a dinner theater in Overland Park, Kan., is the focus of much investigation and a $40,000 cleanup. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA), and Johnson County Department of Health and Environment (JCDHE) converged Friday at the New Theatre Restaurant to educate staff about norovirus, oversee cleanup, and observe food safety practices. NewTheatreRestaurant_406x250Owners of the New Theatre Restaurant reported it has contracted with Germicide Pro, which spent six hours cleaning the facility on Friday. The company reported using an EPA-registered disinfectant that kills norovirus and has been found safe for food establishments. The dinner theater seats about 625.  It uses buffet lines with wait staff also providing some limited table service, such as for beverages. So far more than 600 people have reported illnesses, according to public health officials. A majority of the reports were from people who attended the dinner theater between Jan. 15 and Jan. 19. KDHE has not received any reports of people becoming ill who attended New Theatre after Wednesday, Jan. 27. 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. The virus 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 transmission of norovirus and other diseases is by proper hand washing. Public health officials advise washing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds at the following times:

  • Before, during and after preparing food;
  • Before and after eating food;
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick;
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound;
  • After using the toilet;
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet;
  • After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing;
  • After touching an animal, animal feed or animal waste;
  • After handling pet food or pet treats; and
  • After touching garbage.

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