Boston College: More Than 120 Students Ill From Norovirus Traced to Chipotle

The number of Boston College students sickened by a norovirus outbreak linked to a local Chipotle restaurant has climbed to more than 120, according to college officials.

Boston health officials confirmed the presence of norovirus at Chipotle's Cleveland Circle location on Tuesday.

School officials confirm eight of the patients are members of the basketball team, but all of them have been cleared to play at Providence College Wednesday night.

Officials at Boston College said nearly all the students sickened confirmed they had eaten at the Chipotle restaurant over the weekend. Authorities said other area residents have also fallen ill.

Boston Public Health said Wednesday that it had 80 confirmed cases of the norovirus, but added that other people have become ill after being in contact with patients and that available information is evolving.

According to a report from the Boston Inspectional Services department, which is responsible for inspecting the city's restaurants, an employee at the Chipotle restaurant in Cleveland Circle was sick while working a shift Thursday.

William Christopher, the department's commissioner, said it was not immediately known if management at Chipotle was aware of the employee's symptoms at the time. He said the restaurant's permit to operate has been suspended by the city and that a disinfection process has begun.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, infected workers cause about 70 percent of reported norovirus outbreaks from contaminated food. Each year, norovirus causes 19 million to 21 million illnesses.

The virus can spread from an infected person, contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces, the agency says. It is very contagious and can spread quickly in places such as daycare centers and cruise ships.

A spokesman for Denver-based Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. has said the Boston College illnesses are likely an isolated case of norovirus and unrelated to the E. coli cases that have turned up in nine states.

About 50 college students in California have also contracted norovirus, but it's not clear where or how.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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