At least 20 patrons have contracted a possible case of food poisoning that has been traced to a local restaurant, the Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health said.
The department is investigating the illness outbreak after receiving multiple reports from patrons who ate at Cebollas Mexican Grill at 5930 W. Jefferson Blvd. in Time Corners on Sunday.
Initial reports said about 20 people fell ill after eating at the restaurant, but department spokesman John Silcox said those calls have increased since the outbreak was publicized Friday.
The investigation is ongoing and test results are pending, Silcox said, but the symptoms are consistent with a type of viral gastroenteritis known as norovirus.
Norovirus – sometimes called food poisoning or stomach flu – is the leading cause of foodborne illness in the United States and is especially common in restaurants, nursing homes, schools and on cruises, Silcox said.
Symptoms of gastrointestinal illness usually begin 24 to 48 hours after exposure and can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramping.
The illness usually lasts from 24 to 48 hours.
Most people make a complete recovery, Silcox said.
At greater risk are children, older adults and people with compromised immune systems, he said. They are at a higher risk for dehydration and should drink plenty of liquids to replace the fluids lost to vomiting or diarrhea.
Health officials said management at the popular Mexican restaurant is fully cooperating with the investigation.
Our primary goal is the safety and health of our customers, said Roberto Soto, manager of the restaurant.
Soto said it has been tough, but he and his staff are working with health department officials.
The restaurant closed Thursday so that staff could clean and disinfect the building and furnishings.
We just want everyone to know that precautionary measures have been taken to ensure the health and safety of our customers, Soto said.
Health department officials interviewed restaurant employees, and those who reported feeling ill or having symptoms were tested for the virus, Silcox said.
Although it will be weeks before the investigation is concluded, early indicators point to an employee who might have reported to work despite feeling ill, Silcox said.