The Princeton Health Department received 30 reports between Thanksgiving and Tuesday of individuals experiencing gastrointestinal illnesses.
All 30 people ate at the restaurant at the Nassau Inn on Thanksgiving or the day after the holiday, Princeton Health Officer Jeffrey Grosser said. Many of the people also ate at other restaurants during the time period.
The health department has increased its surveillance of retail food establishments because of the incidents, and the Nassau Inn was inspected yesterday.
Laboratory testing has not yet confirmed the cause of the illnesses yet, but Grosser said the Norovirus is suspected in most or all of reported cases because of the symptoms and the time frame for the onset of symptoms and the recovery. The Norovirus is the most common cause of gastrointestinal illness and is especially common during the winter months.
“All the phone calls we received were similar in terms of where people ate, when people became ill (Thursday and Friday) and when they started feeling better (Sunday and Monday),” Grosser said.
An inspection of the restaurant at the hotel only revealed minor issues that can easily be rectified. Grosser said the issues did not cause the illnesses. About 70 percent of all Norovirus outbreaks are spread by food workers.
“Our public health nurse is working with the Nassau Inn to make sure anyone who is ill is kept home from work,” Grosser said.
Anyone who has had symptoms of gastrointestinal illnesses after eating at a Princeton restaurant recently should call the health department to report the illness at (609) 497-7610.
People can become infected with the stomach virus in several ways, including:
– Eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated
– Touching surfaces or objects contaminated with the virus, and then placing their hands in their mouths
– Having direct contact with another person who is infected and showing symptoms (for example, when caring for someone with the illness, or sharing foods or eating utensils with someone who is ill).
You can decrease your chance of coming in contact with viruses by following these preventive steps:
– Frequently wash your hands, especially after toilet visits and before eating or preparing food. Hand sanitizers are not effective against most GI causing organisms, including Norovirus.
– Thoroughly clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces immediately after an episode of illness by using a bleach-based household cleaner.
– Immediately remove and wash clothing or linens that may be contaminated with virus after an episode of illness (use hot water and soap).
– Persons who are infected with a stomach virus should try to minimize their contact with others while they are ill and should not prepare food during their illness. Food that may have been contaminated by an ill person should be disposed of properly.