On January 8, 2005, the Josephine County Health Department (JCHD) received notification that customers of the Si Casa Flores restaurant in Grants Pass, Oregon, had become ill with gastrointestinal illness after eating at the restaurant. The symptoms reported by callers were consistent with norovirus, and included vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, and headache.
JCHD commenced an investigation of the illnesses, and tested specimens from three ill individuals for pathogenic bacteria and viruses. Two of the three specimens collected tested positive for norovirus. Interviews with 52 persons who had eaten recently at the restaurant were also conducted.
JCHD officials performed an environmental health assessment of the restaurant, and noted that an employee failed to wash their hands properly between tasks. JCHD Environmental Health instituted the following control measures at the restaurant:
- Reinforced proper hand washing through education.
- Instructed the manager to discard any remaining cold food items such as cabbage, salsa, or ice cream desserts, remaining from January 6 through January 10.
- Cleaning of the ice machine was instructed.
- Recommended sanitizing of hand sinks on all counter surfaces.
- Recommended addition of nail brushes at hand sinks as well as hand sanitizers.
In the end JCHD concluded that Si Casa Flores was the source of a norovirus outbreak between January 6 and January 9, 2005. In all, JCHD reported 30 confirmed victims.
Marler Clark represented seven people who became ill with norovirus after eating at Si Casa Flores in claims against the restaurant. Their claims were resolved in mid-2005.