Update: According to the Boston Herald, the number of students with norovirus from the Cleveland Circle Chipotle has reached 141.
Editor’s note: Various New England news outlets are reporting that the number is now 120 students stricken with norovirus from eating at the Cleveland Circle MA Chipotle.
Reported by Dan Hausle
A spokesperson for the college released a statement on Tuesday, saying:
The number of Boston College students who have reported to BC Health Services with GI symptoms has risen to 80 as of noon today. All 80 students have confirmed that they ate at the Chipotle Restaurant in Cleveland Circle (Boston) during the weekend. All have been tested for both E.Coli and the norovirus. Test results will not be available for at least two days.
The director of health services at the college sent a letter to students on Tuesday, advising them of what precautions to take to prevent the spread of the norovirus.
Chipotle said it believes norovirus is to blame for sickening students at Boston College who reported “gastrointestinal symptoms” after eating at the chain.
The company says it thinks the illnesses are an isolated incident unrelated to a multi-state outbreak of E. coli cases linked to its restaurants.
“All of the evidence we have points in that direction,” says Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold. He noted Chipotle has no confirmation, but that the company hopes to have more information later Tuesday.
Late Monday, Chipotle said it was temporarily closing a restaurant in Boston’s Cleveland Circle after Boston College said 30 of its students, including members of the men’s basketball team, complained of gastrointestinal symptoms after eating at the chain. The school said it was working with health authorities to investigate the cause.
On Tuesday, Arnold released a statement:
Our initial statement is below, though health officials in Boston believe this is likely a norovirus, which seems consistent with the pattern in our estimation (you can see more on that in today’s Boston Globe here). The latest update we have is that there are between 25 and 30 cases.
It is important to note that noroviruses are very common, in part because they are so easily transmitted (the can spread through person-to-person contact, on surface areas, or through food or drink). According to CDC, there are approximately 20 million cases a year, making them the leading cause of gastroenteritis in the US.
Arnold’s initial statement was released on Monday:
The safety and well being of our customers is always our highest priority, so our restaurant at Cleveland Circle in Boston is temporarily closed while we work with local health officials to investigate a number of illnesses among Boston College students. We do not have any evidence to suggest that this incident is related the previous E. coli incident. There are no confirmed cases of E. coli connected to Chipotle in Massachusetts.
People can get norovirus from an infected person, contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The virus is very contagious and can spread quickly in places such as daycare centers and cruise ships, the agency says. Each year, it causes 19 to 21 million illnesses.
Scott Zobach, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, said the agency had no update on the cause of the illnesses at Boston College. He said test results from specimens sent to labs were expected back later Tuesday or Wednesday.
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