By Doug Page
Staff Writer
July 11, 2006

TROY ó Contamination traced to poor food handling likely sickened at least 120 patrons of a Mexican restaurant last month.

None of those sickened, who ate at La Fiesta Restaurant on June 23 and 24, were required to stay in a hospital, according to the Miami County Health Department.

Tests of stool samples and leftover food found the presence of norovirus, a class of virus long associated with “stomach flu” and other gastrointestinal ailments.

“The virus is typically spread through food or water by a sick person who does not wash their hands well after using the restroom,” Chris Cook of the health department said Tuesday.

“The most likely scenario was that there was a sick food worker who may or may not have been experiencing symptoms of the illness. The worker did not practice good hand-washing and then went on to prepare food,” he said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates half of all food-borne illnesses reported in this country is traced to a norovirus.

The last reported outbreak in Miami County was at a church camp near Tipp City several years ago.

Symptoms usually include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and some stomach cramping. Cook said though people may feel very sick, the illness passes within 24 to 48 hours.

The restaurant’s management has cooperated with the investigation, he said.