GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- As of Thursday afternoon, at least 60 people have become ill after eating at the Beltline Bar, a popular Mexican restaurant o 28th Street.
Calls started coming in Tuesday at the Kent County Health Department. "We received our first phone call from citizens complaining that they were ill with vomiting and diarrhea," explained Adam London.
Investigators went to the restaurant, unannounced, the same day. "We haven't found anything. They've done a great job with sanitation there." London says the health department believes an employee or a patron had the virus and infected the others. "Norovirus is one of the most contagious viruses we know about; even a couple of particles can spread the disease."
That's likely what happened at Noto's restaurant, in Cascade Township in 2009. A child vomited in the lobby and over 160 people got sick but the infection had nothing to do with the food. "We don't even consider norovirus a food-borne illness, it's not associated with food. People are not eating it, it's spread by people carrying it," London said.
If you're a sick employee heading to work or a patron going to a restaurant, health officials say you should should stay home for at least 24-48 hours without symptoms. In this case, the health department still doesn't know who brought the virus to the restaurant. "They did clean, according to the MDCH guidelines, for norovirus cleanup."
There is more information about norovirus on the CDC website.
The Beltline Bar posted the following message on its Facebook page:
Dear Valued Customers & Friends,
My name is Jeff Lobdell, I am the owner of the Beltline Bar. Tonight it was reported that the restaurant is being investigated for a possible norovirus incident that may have happened over the weekend. Nothing like this has happened in the restaurant's 60 year history, but we are taking this very seriously. The health, wellness and safety our guests and staff is the most important thing to us. We serve as many as 1000 people a day & pride ourselves on our many years of exemplary sanitation and safety. This single incident is a reminder that the norovirus, which has become more prevalent in all public places is very powerful and there that you can never be too cautious. We want to thank the Health Department in their assistance in helping us ensure that we go above and beyond all suggested measures to protect our patrons and employees. I ask that anyone who thinks that may have possibly been affected by this situation personally call me at (616-235-8640) so I can make it right. Your patronage & support is appreciated at this difficult time not only by myself, but also our staff members.