Public Health in King County (Seattle), WA, suspects norovirus caused gastroenteritis at two local restaurants, which are some distance apart and separately owned.

Eight customers of a Normandy Park Subway restaurant are suffering from vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea. On Oct. 25, Public Health learned of eight people from two separate groups who became ill after eating at the restaurant three days earlier.

Public Health is also investigating an outbreak of gastroenteritis with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea associated with Bombay Grill at 11051 1st Ave. South in Seattle. At least three people reported symptoms starting Oct. 17.

Laboratory confirmations are not available for either outbreak, but King County officials say symptoms are suggestive of norovirus in both cases.

“Often in norovirus outbreaks, no laboratory testing is done,” Public Health said in an updated posted on its website. “The exact food item that caused the illness has not been identified, though this is not uncommon for norovirus outbreaks where multiple food items may be contaminated.”

None of the ill required hospitalization and Public Health says its outbreak investigations remain ongoing. Owners and managers of the two restaurants involved are cooperating with the inquiries. Both facilities are being thoroughly cleaned and sanitized.

Norovirus is highly contagious and can spread from person-to-person and frequently is associated with food. Norovirus is known for causing sudden outsets of nausea and vomiting with watery diarrhea and cramps. Low-grade fever, chills, and body aches often follow.

Norovirus rarely causes severe complications. Dehydration is the most common concern, especially among young children and the elderly. At present, there is no vaccine for norovirus.

As general advice, experts say anyone using cutting boards or food preparation counters should wash their hands often to avoid cross-contaminating other foods. Hand washing with soap should follow any diaper changing or bathroom use. And no one should prepare food for others for at least 48 hours after the last episode of vomiting or diarrhea.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)