Updated: Dec. 9, 12:43 p.m.
Thomas Nary, director of University Health Services (UHS), confirmed in an email to The Heights that the source of the food poisoning cases linked to Chipotle—with over 120 Boston College students affected—is the norovirus, after an employee at Chipotle had the illness. Nary sent an email to the student body just after noon on Monday to report that over 120 students have come to health services with symptoms consistent with the norovirus. Nearly all of the students ate at the Chipotle in Cleveland Circle.
“Colleges are a closed community, we were able to spot a trend and alert the Department of Public Health,” Nary said in the email. “Preliminary tests are confirming that norovirus is the culprit, though we continue to test for any other pathogen.”
Initially, it was suspected that the outbreak was E. coli, similar to illnesses that had been linked to several other Chipotle establishments in New York, Maryland, and California, among others. Boston health officials confirmed today that this is likely a norovirus.
“Health officials in Boston believe this is likely a norovirus, which seems consistent with the pattern, in our estimation,” Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold said to NBC News.
The restaurant, which closed yesterday afternoon for inspection, remained closed today.
Norovirus is the most common cause of gastrointestinal disease in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is characterized by nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain, but it is rarely serious and usually the symptoms disappear after a couple of days.
In today’s email, Nary recommended that students practice proper hygiene, including washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Individuals experiencing symptoms should stay hydrated and rest, he wrote. The administration has taken steps to handle the outbreak, including stopping self-service, like salad bars, in the dining halls and redoubling efforts to clean common-touch surfaces in public spaces.
Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor