It made thousands of people sick on cruise ships last year, and now the Noro, or Norwalk Virus, may the culprit behind a recent food-borne outbreak at a local restaurant.
Bay County Health officials are now saying about 100 people who ate at Mikato Japanese Restaurant over a single weekend, between February 6th and the 8th, have contracted gastroenteritis, which stems from the Noro Virus.
The results of recent lab work shows that more than 30 percent of those tested came back positive for Noro, which is highly contagious.
"The virus we're talking about is heat resistant, bleach resistant and chlorine resistant. So simply warming food, or even steaming food won't kill the Noro virus. About 50 percent of food-borne outbreaks in the U.S. in recent years were caused by the Noro virus," Dr. Peter Sylvester of the Bay County Health Department says.
Sylvester says the most likely scenario is a Mikato employee who handles food probably had the virus and spread it through salads being served the weekend everyone got sick. The outbreak and subsequent publicity has obviously had a negative effect on what is otherwise a very popular restaurant.
Mikato's owners say they've had many cancellations, costing them thousands of dollars, but the restaurant is confident they've rebounded and that an outbreak like this won't happen again.
"Paid very close attention to the Health Departments’ guidelines, and I have no doubt they are doing everything they can do to prevent future outbreaks," Restaurant Spokesman Dr. Claude Harvey says.
And Health officials say the question now isn't how it happened, but why we don't have more of it happening.
"There's been a lot of gastroentinitis in this area this late winter," Dr. Sylvester says.
But Dr. Sylvester says the outbreak already reached its peak and it's unlikely that Mikato's would have another outbreak.
Dr. Sylvester says the only sure-fire way to prevent a Noro-like outbreak is to wash your hands for a total of 10 seconds.
Read more about the Norwalk Virus at this website: www.astdhpphe.org/infect/norwalk.html