Norovirus investigation at Beltline Bar

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Kent County Health Department is investigating reports of norovirus symptoms from people who ate at the Beltline Bar.

As many as 40 people who were at the bar over the weekend say they experienced symptoms consistent with norovirus early this week, Kent County Health Department spokeswoman Lisa LaPlante told 24 Hour News 8.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, norovirus is a contagious virus can be contracted by contaminated food or water, by touching contaminated surfaces, or from an infected person. It can cause stomach pain, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. The illness should have run its course for most of the people who got sick over the weekend, the Kent County Health Department says.

The health department checked the bar Tuesday and found no sanitation problems, so it’s unlikely that the recent illnesses were food-borne.

It’s als0 unlikely the source of the contamination will ever be determined because norovirus is so contagious and spreads so rapidly, health officials say.

“It’s possible that it could have been a sick employee, for instance, who came back to work before they were really healed. It is also possible that it could have been a customer,” Adam London of the health department said.

The health department doesn’t have a way to find out for certain.

Jeff Lobdell, who owns the Beltline Bar, said in a statement on the restaurant’s Facebook page that the restaurant had no other instances of similar outbreaks in its 60-year history.

“We serve as many as 1,000 people a day and pride ourselves on our many years of exemplary sanitation and safety,” Lobdell said in the statement.

Wednesday and Thursday, the health department worked with the restaurant to clean and kill any remaining contamination.


The full statement from Jeff Lobdell:

“Dear Valued Customers & Friends,
My name is Jeff Lobdell, I am the owner of the Beltline Bar. Tonight it was reported that the restaurant is being investigated for a possible norovirus incident that may have happened over the weekend. Nothing like this has happened in the restaurant’s 60 year history, but we are taking this very seriously. The health, wellness and safety our guests and staff is the most important thing to us. We serve as many as 1000 people a day & pride ourselves on our many years of exemplary sanitation and safety. This single incident is a reminder that the norovirus, which has become more prevalent in all public places is very powerful and there that you can never be too cautious. We want to thank the Health Department in their assistance in helping us ensure that we go above and beyond all suggested measures to protect our patrons and employees. I ask that anyone who thinks that may have possibly been affected by this situation personally call me at (616-235-8640) so I can make it right. Your patronage & support is appreciated at this difficult time not only by myself, but also our staff members.”



Kent County Health Department on norovirus (pdf)


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