Nearly 400 sick with norovirus after attending dinner show at Kansas theater

Nearly 400 Sick After Attending Dinner Show at Kansas Theater

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (WDAF) -- Investigators looking into the norovirus outbreak at the New Theatre Restaurant have expanded the time period when they believe people were exposed to the virus.

On Thursday, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment said the number of people who have reported symptoms has ballooned from 100 to more than 390, and now includes patrons who attended between January 15 to January 17.

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The Kansas Health Dept. considers 390 people a large number and says it has not ruled out any causes of the outbreak. While at first they believed the outbreak was limited to January 17th patrons, investigators are now hearing from people with symptoms as far back as January 15th.

One woman, Nancy Gilbertson, who attended the January 16th performance says she became so sick she ended up in the hospital, due to vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhea.

"The next night, wow, I got sicker than a dog," she said. "It hit hard and it hit fast."

Gilbertson was not tested for the norovirus and did not know for sure why she became so ill. She and her doctor speculated it was food poisoning. She chatted online with others who attended the New Theatre Restaurant and learned they were sick, too. She said she still suspects food contamination.

"All of the people who ate the chicken got food poisoning, same thing," she said.

However, Rob McGraw with the New Theatre Restaurant says evidence does not point to the kitchen.

"Our kitchen staff of 40, no one has come down with the norovirus, so we know it is not connected with the kitchen," McGraw said.

The only staff members who have been infected, according to McGraw, are three on the wait staff who served a man on January 17th. That customer tested positive for the norovirus.

After the outbreak the KDHE performed an inspection and found nine violations, which management says have been corrected. The issues included employees touching food with their bare hands, and touching cooked chicken after handling raw chicken.

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Nearly 400 sick with norovirus after attending dinner show at Kansas theater
This transmission electron micrograph, TEM, revealed some of the ultra structural morphology displayed by norovirus virions, or virus particles. Noroviruses belong to the genus Norovirus, and the family Caliciviridae. They are a group of related, single-s
Amanda T. Harrington, PhD, assistant professor of clinical pathology at UIC, tests specimens on Tuesday Jan. 12, 2016 using the Verigene System, made by Nanosphere based in Chicago, which helps medical professionals identify gastrointestinal infections like norovirus on the molecular level. UIC is one of the universities/hospitals that has the system. (Phil Velasquez/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
The Norovirus has increased tenfold in Colorado in the last 6 years, with most of the outbreaks showing up in nursing homes. Raquel Rivera cleans the private rooms and the common areas at Chateau des Mons Care and Assisted Living in Englewood, and has a rigorous cleaning regime. Since the home had an outbreak of the virus just over a week ago, along with her everyday routine of soap and disinfectant, Rivera wipes everything down with a bleach solution. She will use the bleach for at least two weeks after the conclusion of the last outbreak. Kathryn Scott Osler, The Denver Post (Photo By Kathryn Scott Osler/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - June 10: Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., and Rep. Gene Green, D-Texas, during the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health markup of a bill to amend the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act with the goal of improving the safety of food in the global market. (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)

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