Norovirus is hard to get rid of, especially in a shelter

I’m still here, just like norovirus.

I can’t really imagine what it’s like to have your community and homes destroyed by fire. I really struggle to find the words or feelings to describe what residents of California are going through. Viewing the social media posts and videos of folks fleeing the flames is emotional.

A few years ago an outbreak linked to a Denver homeless shelter made it into the barfblog new and notable category. Forty folks who depended on the emergency food were affected by violent foodborne illness symptoms after eating donated turkey. Fourteen ambulances showed up and took those most affected to area hospitals.

Getting into a shelter or temporary housing because of the fires and then acquiring norovirus is a terrible situation.

Butte County Public Health Department says that over 140 individuals housed in a Camp Fire shelters likely have norovirus. 

Since the shelters opened to house Camp Fire evacuees, 145 people have been sick with vomiting and/or diarrhea. As of Wednesday evening, there were 41 people experiencing symptoms at the following shelters:

Neighborhood Church: 179 total evacuees at the shelter, 21 currently experiencing illness

Oroville Nazarene Church: 352 total evacuees at the shelter, 10 currently experiencing illness

Butte County Fairgrounds: 142 total evacuees at the shelter, 9 currently experiencing illness

East Avenue Church: 200 total evacuees at the shelter, 1 currently experiencing illness

The number of sick people is increasing every day. Twenty-five people have been to the hospital for medical support. Staff serving the shelters have also been sick.

Norovirus can quickly go through a food shelter with many people living in close quarters. Once the virus is there, it is hard to get rid of.

As one friend of the blog posted on social media, having norovirus and using a public bathroom to deal with the symptoms must be particularly degrading.

This entry was posted in E. coli 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.