Patient count nears 300 in outbreak linked to North Carolina sushi restaurant

Owners of Sushi Nine closed the restaurant for two days for cleaning, but it has since reopened ...

FOOD SAFETY NEWS – There are now 241 complaints from patrons of a sushi restaurant in Raleigh, NC, about foodborne illnesses.

The complaints against Sushi Nine began Nov. 28, according to local health department officials.

The suspected pathogen is norovirus, with at least three restaurant customers testing positive. The number of sick people is growing quickly with 100 more reporting becoming sick since the previous update on Dec, 9.

Wake County Public Health and Wake County Environmental Services are investigating the outbreak.

“Unfortunately, norovirus can spread very easily, especially during holiday gatherings and parties, which include a lot of meal prep and catering,” Wake County Public Health Director Rebecca Kaufman said.

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“We continue to work closely with customers who visited Sushi Nine, restaurant staff and our partners with NCDHHS (North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services) to determine the source and extent of the outbreak.”

About norovirus

Symptoms of norovirus infection may include vomiting and/or diarrhea, nausea, muscle aches, fever, and headache, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Symptoms typically start 12 to 48 hours after exposure and can last for one to three days. Most people recover without treatment, however some may need medical attention for dehydration.

People with norovirus infections can spread the infection easily to others. The virus can live on surfaces for long periods of time.

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Eating sushi? You could expose yourself to man-made toxins

BUSINESS INSIDER – There is a debate within the seafood community if farm-raised or wild caught fish is better or healthier for you. While farm-raised fish will not carry a risk of parasitic worms, they will be exposed to man-made toxins.

“Toxin exposure from sushi is significant,” Dr. Dempsey said. “PCBs [chlorine compounds] and pesticides have been found to contaminate farm-raised fish as well as wild fish from the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean. Ciguatoxins are toxins produced by marine algae microorganisms that affect fish that feed near reefs such as red snapper, grouper, jack and barracuda.”

Ingestion of ciguatoxins in large quantities can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, followed by neurological symptoms, and in rare cases, hallucinations or anxiety.

Choose smaller fish when you order sushi so your risk of consuming contaminants is lower. Dr. Dempsey also recommends asking the sushi restaurant where they source their seafood. She advises avoiding fish that has been farm-raised or caught near reefs.


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