Investigation confirms February norovirus outbreak at Mulvaney's in midtown Sacramento

05/29/2013 12:00 AM

05/29/2013 9:43 AM

Following weeks of investigation, an outbreak of norovirus in February at midtown's Mulvaney's B&L has been confirmed by Sacramento County public health officials. The investigation found that 138 people – including at least six food service workers – reported symptoms. One patron later tested positive for norovirus, and two food service workers tested positive for norovirus.

Norovirus is a highly contagious stomach virus that causes vomiting, diarrhea and nausea.

The report did not identify whether norovirus was first introduced to the restaurant by a worker or patron. The outbreak occurred over six events, including a company dinner and a family-style dinner – over four days in late February. A lawyer for Mulvaney's first informed county health officials that a number of patrons had fallen ill.

Since the outbreak was limited to a specific range of dates, and no further cases of illness were reported, Mulvaney's has continued to operate. The popular midtown eatery passed its most recent food facility inspection on Feb. 13.

The report entailed interviews with 256 patrons, and the consumption of Turkish coffee pudding, pickled beet salad and ham showed the greatest risk of norovirus exposure. In contrast, some foods, including rib-eye and mushroom pasta did not show a link to illness. The report theorizes that these dishes were prepared by restaurant workers who were not ill.

County public health officials recommended the restaurant review its food-handling and sanitary measures and review policies for sick food service workers, among other measures.

Chef and proprietor Patrick Mulvaney said he is continuing to work with county officials to make sure a similar episode doesn't happen again.

"Obviously, I was horrified and frustrated and confused about it," said Mulvaney. "Since then, we've worked hand in hand with the (county) medical officer and redoubled our efforts about handwashing.

"The outpouring of support from the community has been incredible," he added. "It was good to see faces coming in and saying, 'Keep your chin up.' We're moving forward."

Call The Bee's Chris Macias, (916) 321-1253. Follow him on Twitter @chris_macias.

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