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Illness Linked To Casper Golden Corral Approaches 200 Cases

Kevin Koile, Townsquare Media

Update 12:00 p.m. Friday – Public health director Robert Harrington says an internal report released by the Wyoming Department of Epidemiology “strengthens the association” between the nearly 200 food borne illness reports and Casper’s Golden Corral.

Update 11:15 a.m. Thursday – Officials with the Casper-Natrona County Public Health Department say they’ve received 188 reports of Norovirus-like symptoms from Casper-area residents. Of the 188 self-reported cases fielded by the health department, public health director Robert Harrington says 167 people say they’ve dined at Casper’s newly-opened Golden Corral restaurant within the last week.

“We now have reports of 167 people who have self-reported their illness, and all report dining at that particular restaurant,” Harrington said Thursday morning. “That doesn’t completely indict the restaurant, but it does make a suggestive association.”

BREAKING: Golden Corral Closes

Harrington says both the county and state health departments will continue to investigate recent hospital records. Harrington says preliminary records indicate a rise in Casper-area food borne illness-related cases within the last few weeks.

“Verbally, the hospital has told us that they’ve seen a community-wide increase in this type of complaint since Thanksgiving,” Harrington said. “But they’ve seen a huge spike since the weekend of the 8th and 9th (of December).”

Harrington says Golden Corral employees, management and Golden Corral’s corporate team have been cooperative with the health department’s investigation.

The new restaurant opened roughly six weeks ago.

RELATED: Health Officials Urge Caution For Those With Norovirus

Update 9:00 a.m. Wednesday – Public health officials say they’re investigating at least a dozen illnesses from people who believe they became sick after eating at Golden Corral in Casper. Casper-Natrona County Public Health Director Robert Harrington says the exact cause of the illness won’t be known until results come back from the state laboratory.

Harrington did say at least 12 people complained of Norovirus-like symptoms, with more cases pending. He says the illness behaves similar to Norovirus, with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and some headaches, and lasts about 24-to-48 hours. While Norovirus is suspected as the cause of the illness, it has not yet been confirmed.

Harrington says his agency has contacted Golden Corral and is working with the restaurant, and there are other reports of similar symptoms from people who didn’t visit the restaurant. He says it could be the end of the week before lab results determine the exact cause. Information about the illness is available at the Casper-Natrona County Public Health website.

Update 4:25 p.m. Tuesday – Wyoming Medical Center public information officer Mel Schwartz would not confirm the location of the restaurant implicated in the health department’s investigation. Schwartz would also not comment on the number of suspected Norovirus cases, citing federal healthcare privacy laws.

Update 2:00 p.m. Tuesday – Casper-Natrona County Public Health Director Robert Harrington says department investigators suspect a strain of Norovirus to be a potential cause of multiple gastrointestinal discomfort cases that were reported recently in the Casper area.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, Norovirus is highly contagious and can be transmitted through human contact, food and water. Norovirus symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, fever, headaches and body aches.

Harrington says he is still unable to release details regarding what restaurant is implicated in the investigation. He also would not verify the number of Norovirus cases that have been confirmed.

 

Officials with the Casper-Natrona County Public Health Department say they’re investigating a report filed by an official at Wyoming Medical Center regarding an abnormally high number of food poisoning cases that were reported recently by customers of a Casper-area restaurant.

Public health director Robert Harrington confirmed the department launched its investigation Tuesday morning.

“The report that I have at this point is that there are a few cases above normal, but (Wyoming Medial Center) didn’t give me any numbers,” Harrington said. “They did say it implicated a local restaurant.”

Harrington would not verify the number of confirmed food poisoning cases fielded by Wyoming Medical Center. He also would not confirm the location of the restaurant.  When asked what constituted an abnormally high number of cases, Harrington said that was on a “need-to-know” basis between his public health agency and the hospital.

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