Numbers total nearly 200 sick after eating at local restaurant

The number of people sick after eating at local restaurant has nearly quadrupled since Thursday. The Barry-Eaton Health Department says almost two hundred people have been infected with a gastrointestinal virus.

It's caused norovirus, commonly refereed to as the stomach flu or food poisoning. The health department has so far confirmed that 195 people have been infected. Officials say the virus is not dangerous, but it's easily spread. So far, close to 200 customers and employees that were at Carrabbas on West Saginaw last weekend have been infected by the very contagious norovirus.

The Barry-Eaton District Health Department says that number could grow as they continue their investigation.

Eric Pessell, Barry-Eaton Health Department: "This is a large outbreak, but the norovirus itself, we see it every winter somewhere in the community."

The virus is transmitted by consuming fecally-contaminated food or water, or it's spread directly person to person, and while health officials now know what's causing people associated with the restaurant to be sick. They can only speculate about the original source of contamination.

Eric Pessell: "The cases we're seeing are still people that ate more than likely Saturday or Sunday. So far, we have heard of a few infections that have happened secondarily."

Health officials say infected people are contagious from the time they begin to feel sick to at least three days, and sometimes up to two weeks after their recovery, and if you catch the virus, there are a couple of things you need.

Eric Pessell: "Plenty of rest, relaxation, make sure they're practicing good hygiene so they don't spread it to other members of their family. Definitely keep their hands washed and probably shouldn't be preparing food at home for themselves or family members."

The symptoms associated with norovirus are vomiting, watery diarrhea with abdominal cramps and nausea. Health officials say you can prevent spreading the virus by immediately washing infected clothes or linens, and of course, washing your hands frequently.