An outbreak of norovirus in Ireland last month has been linked to eating food at a leisure facility.

The source of some infections were foodborne while others were due to person to person transmission.

Data from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) showed illness from noroviral infection in the Dublin East region. The HPSC is Ireland’s agency for the surveillance of communicable diseases and is part of the Health Service Executive (HSE).

In total, 48 illnesses have been identified to date; 33 males and 15 females who all live in Ireland. Initial data showed 36 illnesses. All age groups were affected except young children under 12 years old. No people were admitted to hospital and illness onset dates ranged from Aug. 17 to Aug. 22, 2019.

Food prepared on site

The Department of Public Health East, Health Service Executive, confirmed the investigation into an outbreak of norovirus associated with a food premises at a leisure facility.

“The outbreak is closed and we do not expect further new cases to arise. However we cannot exclude the possibility that further persons who were ill at the time will come to light,” said a spokeswoman.

The department was notified by a local doctor on Aug. 20 of an outbreak of gastroenteritis among people who had eaten at an unnamed leisure facility in Dublin.

Interviews done as part of the investigation indicated a possible association between illness and consumption of foodstuffs prepared on site. However, it was not possible to access testing of food samples for norovirus during the probe.

The center closed voluntarily as part of the investigation and control measures included deep cleaning of the premises.

Foods commonly involved in norovirus outbreaks include leafy greens such as lettuce, fresh fruits, and shellfish such as oysters. The infectious dose is very small and noroviruses are shed for at least two weeks after gastroenteritis. There is usually a peak of infections in winter.

Norovirus is a highly contagious virus that frequently spreads person-to-person and is often associated with food. Typical symptoms of infection are quick onset of vomiting, watery, non-bloody diarrhea with abdominal cramps, nausea and dehydration, with the latter being the most common complication. Symptoms usually begin 24 to 48 hours after infection and last for 12 to 60 hours. No vaccine is available.

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