Chipotle has found itself in more bad press as another outbreak linked to one of their restaurants is at the center of a norovirus outbreak in Boston, Massachusetts.

Earlier, Boston College Student Health reported more than 80 BC students have come in to Health Services with gastrointestinal symptoms, including vomiting and diarrhea. All of these students indicated that they had eaten at the Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurant in Cleveland Circle during the past weekend.

BCThe Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC), the City of Boston Inspectional Services Department (ISD) , and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health launched an investigation to determine the cause and the nature of the illness.  Initial laboratory testing has indicated the presence of norovirus.

Health officials report there are currently 65 known case reports that include Boston College residents, students, and non-BC patrons, but the information is constantly evolving.  The restaurant is temporarily closed while ISD and BPHC continue investigations.

This is not the only outbreak situation the restaurant chain has been the center of in 2015. During the summer, nearly 100 (80 customers and 18 employees) at a Simi Valley Chipotle were sickened by norovirus.

A few weeks later, dozens were sickened by Salmonella after eating at Chipotle restaurants in the Minneapolis area.

Most recently and concurrently, Chipotle has been linked to a multistate E. coli outbreak that has sickened at least 19 in seven states.


Norovirus is a highly contagious viral illness that often goes by other names, such as viral gastroenteritis, stomach flu, and food poisoning.

The symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and some stomach cramping. Sometimes people additionally have a low-grade fever, chills,headache, muscle aches, and a general sense of tiredness. The illness often begins suddenly, and the infected person may feel very sick. In most people, the illness is self-limiting with symptoms lasting for about 1 or 2 days. In general, children experience more vomiting than adults do.

Norovirus is spread person to person particularly in crowded, closed places. Norovirus is typically spread through contaminated food and water, touching surfaces or objects contaminated with norovirus and then putting your hand or fingers in your mouth and close contact with someone who is vomiting or has diarrhea.

Norovirus causes more than 20 million illnesses annually in the US, and it is the leading cause of gastroenteritis outbreaks in the United States.

Robert Herriman is a microbiologist and the Editor-in-Chief of Outbreak News Today and the Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch

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