Chipotle shuts down restaurant after customers get severely ill

Chipotle Test Kitchen 11Hollis JohnsonChipotle customers fell sick after eating at a restaurant in Sterling, Virginia.

Chipotle has shut down a restaurant in Sterling, Virginia, after multiple reports of customers getting sick after eating there.

Customers reported symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhoea, severe stomach pain, dehydration, and nausea to the website iwaspoisoned.com, which first alerted Business Insider to the issues at the Sterling restaurant. One person reported two hospitalizations as a result of the illnesses.

In total, eight reports were made to the website, indicating that at least 13 customers fell sick after eating there from July 14-15.

Chipotle told Business Insider that it is aware of the illnesses and has notified local health officials.

“We are working with health authorities to understand what the cause may be and to resolve the situation as quickly as possible,” Jim Marsden, Chipotle’s executive director of food safety, said. “The reported symptoms are consistent with norovirus. Norovirus does not come from our food supply, and it is safe to eat at Chipotle.”

He said the illnesses are isolated to the Sterling restaurant and that the company plans to reopen that location on Tuesday after sanitizing it.

Customers who fell sick after eating at the Sterling restaurant reported “vomiting violently,” fevers, “violent stomach cramps,” and dizziness for several days.

“Friday 7/14 Daughter and friends went to Chipotle,” one customer wrote on iwaspoisoned.com. By the next morning the daughter was “violently sick, puking, diarrhoea, severe pain, overnight into Sunday. Friends ill as well with one friend also in ER.”

The daughter was hospitalized Sunday for dehydration, nausea, and pain and on Monday was still in “severe pain,” according to the customer.

“This is the worst that I have ever seen,” the customer wrote.

Norovirus is different from E. coli, the bacteria that led to a widespread outbreak at Chipotle restaurants in 14 states two years ago.

The virus is highly contagious and causes symptoms like stomachaches, nausea, diarrhoea, and vomiting. It’s the most common cause of food-borne illnesses in the US with more than 21 million cases annually.

Cases of norovirus stemming from restaurants can often involve a worker who failed to wash his or her hands after going to the bathroom.

Chipotle has dealt with norovirus cases in the past. In December 2015, nearly 120 Boston College students fell sick after a norovirus outbreak at a restaurant close to campus.

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