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    North Carolina health officials investigate over 240 cases of suspected norovirus linked to a sushi restaurant



    CNN
     — 

    The Wake County Public Health Department is investigating 241 complaints of people feeling ill after eating at a Raleigh, North Carolina, sushi restaurant, including a groom who filed a lawsuit claiming he got sick before his wedding.

    So far, three cases of norovirus have been linked to Sushi Nine restaurant, the health department said in a news release.

    Norovirus – sometimes called the “stomach flu” or a “stomach bug” – is a very contagious virus that causes inflammation of the stomach or intestines, leading to diarrhea and vomiting, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People can contract the illness by coming in contact with an infected person, eating contaminated food, or touching contaminated surfaces.

    In a lawsuit filed Friday, Austin Freels said he and his family ate at the restaurant on November 29 and became ill the following day with “nausea, vomiting, stomach cramping, muscle aches, fatigue, headache, severe abdominal pain and dehydration.”

    Freels said his symptoms worsened and continued throughout his wedding weekend. He had to go to urgent care and the emergency room and receive several bags of IV fluids, according to the lawsuit.

    Freels is asking the court for an unspecified amount in damages exceeding $25,000 including loss of wages, medical expenses, travel expenses, emotional distress, and physical pain.

    The lawsuit did not say if Freels had a confirmed case of norovirus.

    CNN has reached out to the restaurant for comment.

    The first person to report to the health department said they became ill after eating at the restaurant on December 1, public health officials said in the news release. Since then, the department has received a total of 241 complaints from diners who visited the Sushi Nine between November 28 and December 5.

    Of the 241 people who reported becoming sick, 170 were interviewed and asked to provide stool samples, the only way to test for the virus, the news release says.

    Only three have given samples, which all came back positive for norovirus, it says.

    The restaurant voluntarily closed for deep cleaning on December 5 and has since reopened. No new complaints have been received since it reopened on December 8, according to the release.

    The county continues to investigate all potential sources of exposure, and has not yet pinpointed a single type of food that might have been the source, the release said, adding that those who reported becoming sick ate different items from the menu.

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