Chipotle closes Virginia restaurant after customers get violently sick

The symptoms reported by customers are consistent with the highly contagious norovirus, Chipotle's head of food safety, Jim Marsden, told NBC News.

James Carlin | Jul 20, 2017

   

After receiving multiple reports from customers who became severely ill after eating at one of its restaurants in Sterling, Virginia, Chipotle says it has closed the location to complete a thorough sanitization.

The symptoms reported by customers are consistent with the highly contagious norovirus, Chipotle's head of food safety, Jim Marsden, told NBC News.

People reported a wide range of symptoms, from violent vomiting and stomach cramps to fevers and dizziness, a report by Business Insider said. Several affected customers reported falling sick within hours after eating burrito bowls. Indications are that at least 13 people became ill. At least one person was hospitalized.

"We are working with health authorities to understand what the cause may be and to resolve the situation as quickly as possible," Marsden said.

According to Loudon County's health director, the norovirus likely was spread by a human carrier, not by contaminated food. A carrier who fails to wash his or her hands properly can easily spread the highly contagious bug. More than 21 million cases of foodborne norovirus are seen in the United States each year.

Chipotle is by now notorious for outbreaks of illness. In 2015, the chain temporarily had to shut down 40 restaurants in Washington and Oregon due to a widespread E. coli outbreak, according to NBC News. That same year, more than 80 college students became infected with norovirus after eating at a restaurant in Boston.

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