In August 2015 a gastroenteritis outbreak occurred following a wedding. An outbreak investigation was undertaken and a cohort study was conducted using an online survey. Of 140 guests, 134 received the survey and 113 responded (84·3% response rate). Seventy respondents met the case definition of vomiting and/or diarrhoea within 72 h of the wedding (61·9% attack rate). Fifteen exposures were associated with illness; on stratification, all were confounded by the ham hock starter. Multivariable analysis showed a significant association with exposure to ham hock (risk ratio 6·62, 95% confidence interval 2·19-20·03). Eight guests and two catering staff submitted stool samples. All tested positive for norovirus GI-6 infection, including a food handler who had vomiting less than 48 h before the wedding. A single genotype was detected among all samples, suggesting a single source of contamination. The transmission pattern suggested point-source exposure. The most plausible cause of the outbreak was transmission from an infected food handler via contaminated food. This highlights the importance of appropriate exclusions for symptomatic food handlers. Additionally, the food handler's stool sample was submitted 7 days after symptom resolution. The potential for extended viral excretion, and the extremely low infective dose of norovirus, may mean that current exclusion guidelines are not of sufficient duration.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The research was funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Protection Research Unit (NIHR HPRU) in Gastrointestinal Infections at University of Liverpool in partnership with Public Health England (PHE), in collaboration with University of East Anglia, University of Oxford and the Institute of Food Research.
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- Norwalk agent and related viruses
- gastrointestinal infections