Test con­firms diner in Vir­ginia has norovirus

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS -

NEW YORK» A per­son who re­ported eat­ing at a Chipo­tle in north­ern Vir­ginia has tested pos­i­tive for norovirus. But health of­fi­cials say that’s not yet enough to de­ter­mine the cause of the roughly 60 re­ported ill­nesses it has iden­ti­fied.

The lo­ca­tion in Ster­ling, Va., was tem­po­rar­ily closed for clean­ing this week af­ter cus­tomers re­ported symp­toms that Chipo­tle said were con­sis­tent with norovirus. That sent shares of the restau­rant chain down, un­der­scor­ing how vul­ner­a­ble its rep­u­ta­tion re­mains al­most two years af­ter an E. coli out­break that sent its sales plung­ing.

Norovirus is a lead­ing cause of ill­nesses from con­tam­i­nated food, and in­fected em­ploy­ees are a fre­quent source of the out­breaks. Symp­toms in­clude vom­it­ing, di­ar­rhea and nau­sea.

The Loudoun County Health De­part­ment in Vir­ginia, out­side Washington, D.C., says it is still await­ing fur­ther test re­sults that should be avail­able early next week. David Good­friend, di­rec­tor of the health de­part­ment, says that hav­ing an­other per­son test pos­i­tive for norovirus would be a “very strong in­di­ca­tion” that norovirus was be­hind the ill­nesses. The health de­part­ment says it has iden­ti­fied about 60 sick­ened people who said they ate at the Chipo­tle in ques­tion.

Chipo­tle Mex­i­can Grill Inc. has stressed the safety mea­sures it has taken to pre­vent such oc­cur­rences. The chain was deal­ing with more bad pub­lic­ity Thurs­day af­ter mice fell from the ceil­ing in a Dal­las lo­ca­tion. Chipo­tle says it was an “ex­tremely iso­lated in­ci­dent,” and that the mice got in the restau­rant be­cause of a struc­tural gap in the build­ing. It said the gap has been fixed.

Shares in Chipo­tle fell 4.5 per­cent to close at $356.05, their low­est point since April 2013. The shares had been above $390 on Tues­day.

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