Norovirus outbreak, including a death, linked to Kansas Meals on Wheels; handwashing issues cited

When I was a kid I used to visit my grandparents in Campbellford,Ontario (that’s in Canada) a bunch. My grandparents lived most of their lives in Toronto (that’s also in Canada) but had retired to this town about 2hrs outside of the city.

My grandparents were into community stuff: volunteering for the hospital auxiliary, organizing charity curling bonspiels and golf tournaments and driving some of their more elderly neighbors to doctor’s appointments.Unknown-1

And my grandfather drove around some food for Meals on Wheels.

I remember being about 8 and going on his route one spring break morning. He grabbed some already-food-filled covered trays and then took a bunch of apples and oranges in bulk. This was before I knew anything about food safety; I didn’t really notice anything about bare hand contact or handwashing.

According to, a norovirus outbreak, tragically including a death, has been linked to a Meals on Wheels service in Kansas.

It has been confirmed by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment that the source of the norovirus outbreak in the Neosho County area last week was Meals on Wheels in southeast Kansas.

KDHE Health Programs Public Information Officer Aimee Rosenow said the numbers of confirmed ill have not changed since Friday when there were 29 confirmed ill. 

Rosenow said epidemiology staff are still working on the case to narrow down the source of infection.

A Jan. 8 food safety inspection of the Chanute Senior Services of SEK facility found problems with hand washing and properly arranging food in coolers to avoid cross-contamination. Samples were also taken of all food from the batch delivered Jan. 6.

KDHE Public Health Public Information Officer Aimee Rosenow said KDHE does not have an autopsy report confirming the cause of death as Norovirus infection and cannot release the name of the deceased. 

“We do know that the patient was ill and has been served by this program,” she said.

Over the past year UNC-Chapel Hill food policy student (and frequent barfblog contributor) Ashley Chaifetz has been researching food handling practices and infrastructure at food pantries in North Carolina (as part of a USDA CAP grant on STECs). Volunteers provide a particular challenge for food safety as they may be transient and have varying food safety values. 




This entry was posted in Food Safety Culture, Norovirus and tagged , , by Ben Chapman. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ben Chapman

Dr. Ben Chapman is a professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University. As a teenager, a Saturday afternoon viewing of the classic cable movie, Outbreak, sparked his interest in pathogens and public health. With the goal of less foodborne illness, his group designs, implements, and evaluates food safety strategies, messages, and media from farm-to-fork. Through reality-based research, Chapman investigates behaviors and creates interventions aimed at amateur and professional food handlers, managers, and organizational decision-makers; the gate keepers of safe food. Ben co-hosts a biweekly podcast called Food Safety Talk and tries to further engage folks online through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and, maybe not surprisingly, Pinterest. Follow on Twitter @benjaminchapman.