Erring on the side of caution when it comes to Norwalk virus on Oahu

@postaday 103; #postaday2011

It’s good to see that the Honolulu Star-Advertiser is taking a tale of caution cautiously. In today’s edition is a story about the possibility of Norwalk virus being the cause for an outbreak among bicyclists and others who were on the North Shore this past Sunday.

I don’t know what the ratios used by the Hawaii State Department of Health are, but, the assumption is that for every incident reported, there are multiple incidents that are not. John and I got sick within the 24-48 hour incubation range and were able to do our part with providing some material evidence for the DOH to work with.

No establishment was named, and that’s what I’m talking about when it comes to being cautious. There might be only one traditionally printed daily newspaper in town, but their old-school approach of withholding information until confirmed should be commended in this instance. And yes, that’s where John works. We met working at The Honolulu Advertiser, so I’m pretty keen on news stories and journalists and holding fast to ethics when it comes to reporting the news.

When you think about these circumstances of numerous people getting sick as a result of eating something contaminated, you cannot help but think that the establishment also falls victim. No one goes into  the restaurant business if they don’t like to cook. People start restaurants because they have something they want to catch on, something to share, delicious food, good times, a good reputation. Does anyone go to work and decide they won’t wash their hands today because maybe the restaurant will get shut down and they can go surf? I don’t think so.

One can speculate. It could have been a tourist off of a cruise ship that was the catalyst. We may never know. My emails with the Red Hot Ladies and Hawaii Bicycle League members indicate the snacks and drinks associated with the route were safe. Thank goodness for that. There were more than 800 of us participating. This could have been a lot worse. The investigation continues. I hope to find out what the DOH concludes. If you or anyone you know got sick, the DOH is interested in gathering more evidence.

Here’s an email from the DOH that was forwarded to me yesterday:

From: EPI1 <>
Sent: Wed, Apr 13, 2011 4:49 pm

Dear Healthcare Provider,

The Department of Health (DOH) requests your help in identifying any persons who present with an acute gastrointestinal illness and who report eating at any food establishment in Haleiwa on Oahu this past weekend (April 9, 10) and/or participated in the Haleiwa Metric Century Ride on Sunday morning, April 10.  DOH is investigating an acute, afebrile, vomiting and non-bloody diarrhea illness which has occurred in at least eight (8) adults 24-30 hours after completing the Ride and eating at a Haleiwa food establishment.  The illness appears to be self-limited with no hospitalizations.  Although confirmation is pending, the history and clinical presentation are suspicious for likely norovirus infection, which is highly infectious and can persist in the environment once contaminated by the stool or vomitus of infected persons.

Please obtain stool for at least norovirus isolation as well as bacterial culture and contact DOH if you identify any patients with the above described symptoms and epidemiological history.

Oahu (Disease Investigation Branch)                   (808) 586-4586
Maui District Health Office                                  (808) 984-8213
Kauai District Health Office                                (808) 241-3563
Big Island District Health Office (Hilo)               (808) 933-0912
Big Island District Health Office (Kona)             (808) 322-4877

After hours on Oahu                                             (808) 566-5049
After hours on neighbor islands                            (808) 360-2575 (toll free)

Thank you for your assistance in protecting the health of the residents and visitors of Hawaiʻi.

By lavagal

Hawaii Kai wife and mom. Melanoma Stage 3a Cancer survivor. English Language Arts teacher, English Learners Coordinator, and Paraprofessional Tutor. Super sub teacher. Dormant triathlete. Road cyclist and Masters swimmer. Gardener. Mrs. Fixit. Random dancer. Music Curator. A teenager trapped in an aging body. Did you know 60 is the new 40? It is.


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