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146 Patrons Sickened After Eating at Chicago Area Restaurant

Injuries that arise from foodborne illnesses can have devastating effects. Resultantly, when people suffer serious personal injury, hospitalization, or even death due to food poisoning, an Illinois personal injury lawsuit may arise. The restaurant or retail store responsible for distributing the contaminated food may be made to pay compensation to victims.

That might just be the next step here.

According to the Chicago Daily Herald, the Cook County Department of Public Health has determined that norovirus, a highly contagious form of food poisoning, is the culprit behind gastrointestinal illnesses of 146 people who were sickened after eating at Bob Chinn’s Crab House in Wheeling, Illinois.

Norovirus is an RNA virus that has been cited as the cause of almost 90% of epidemic non-bacterial outbreaks of gastroenteritis around the world, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention speculate that it may be responsible for nearly half of all foodborne pandemics of gastroenteritis in the United States. The virus may be transmitted by food or water that has been infected by human fecal matter, by person-to-person contact, contact with contaminated surfaces, or by aerosolization of the virus, such as when a toilet is flushed. A spokeswoman for the Cook County Department of Public Health, Amy Poore, stated that the conclusion was based on stool samples taken from victims who had eaten at the Bob Chinn’s restaurant.

Because the virus is highly contagious, it’s spreading quickly. “There’s norovirus circulating everywhere in suburban Cook County,” said Poore. Cases of norovirus – likely traceable back to the Bob Chinn’s outbreak – have been reported in a number of Chicago suburbs.

According to the Chicago Daily Herald, Chinn’s voluntarily complied with the Cook County Health Department’s requirements before reopening after having been closed for a full day. Said Poore on behalf of the Health Department, “whenever you have this kind of an outbreak, anything that had been prepared is discarded…Everything is thoroughly sanitized and then it’s basically like starting fresh.”

Symptoms of illness caused by norovirus often resemble the common stomach flu, and may include nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps. Other symptoms may include a low-grade fever, headache, muscle aches, fatigue, and chills. Although the majority of these symptoms aren’t life-threatening, diarrhea and vomiting can potentially expose a person to dehydration and malnutrition, which could require hospitalization, especially for young children and the elderly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend carefully washing hands as a way to avoid spread of norovirus, especially after using the bathroom and before preparing food.

Restaurants owe a duty of care to their patrons; when a customer is sickened because of a contaminated food product, the company responsible for causing that illness may be made to pay to compensate the consumer. Damages in an Illinois personal injury lawsuit, such as one that may arise in this case, might include such things as hospital and medical bills, as well as money lost from an inability to work.

If you or a loved one have recently eaten at this restaurant and are experiencing symptoms of norovirus, seek medical attention immediately. A doctor will be able to diagnose if you have been infected by the disease. Additionally, contact an attorney to be advised of your rights under the law. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.