Metro Atlanta restaurants are on high alert after Fulton County health officials issued a norovirus warning on Tuesday.
"There are 20 people that we have definitely been able to link to these specific outbreaks. I would anticipate that is a very tiny tip of a very large iceberg," said Fulton County Medical Director Dr. Matthew McKenna.
The Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness has investigated nearly two dozen cases of norovirus during the past three weeks. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
"Please note that no restaurant in Fulton County has been identified as being the source of any of these outbreaks we have investigated," said Fulton County Health Director Dr. Patrice Harris.
Health officials warn the norovirus can be easily transmitted by touching a contaminated surface or by eating food or drinking liquids that contain the virus.
"Of the cases of norovirus, according to the CDC, only around 8 percent generate from restaurants, and that was from the 2010 to 2011 period," said Kelly Hornbuckle with the Georgia Restaurant Association.
Health officials are still asking restaurateurs to use proper food handling techniques to prevent any further spread of the virus. They want food handlers to wear gloves and wash their hands frequently.
"A virus is a virus. You can catch it at an airport, a restaurant, a bathroom or anywhere, so all I've heard is that Purell doesn't work anymore and you've got to use soap and water and wash your hands often," said restaurant patron Chris Johnson.
There is no specific treatment for the norovirus. However, if you get it you should drink plenty of liquids.
The CDC recommends that employees of food service establishments remain vigilant in executing the following procedures.
-Do not prepare food while sick or three days after the illness ends.
-Wash hands carefully and frequently with soap and water.
-Wash fruits and vegetables and cook shellfish thoroughly.
-Clean and disinfect kitchen utensils, counters and surfaces that may have norovirus on them.
-Wash table linens, napkins and other laundry thoroughly.
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