Muskegon Twp. restaurant patrons report illness

MUSKEGON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) – The Muskegon County Department of Public Health is investigating multiple illness reports from people who ate at the same restaurant in Muskegon Township.

Seven people reported getting sick after dining at Bonicki’s Restaurant and Sports Bistro, which is located at 1891 E. Apple Ave., according to the health department.

The health department said in a release that the specific cause of the illness was unknown, and is asking anyone who recently ate there to fill out an online questionnaire to help in the investigation. Illnesses can also be reported by calling the health department at 231.724.1202.

“If you or someone you know has gotten sick eating at Bonicki’s, please go to the public health website. There’s a link to fill out a survey, to fill in a bunch of questions about your experience at Bonicki’s, and we’ll go from there,” Jill Montgomery Keast of Public Health Muskegon County said.

Inspectors say they checked the restaurant after the illnesses were reported and couldn’t find anything out of order.

Samples from the leftovers of one person who got sick will be tested at the Michigan Department of Community Health’s lab. Results should help determine the cause of the illness.

The manager at Bonicki’s told 24 Hour News 8 Wednesday that the restaurant is working with health department inspectors and is as eager as everyone else to find the cause of the sickness.

Bonicki’s is the third West Michigan restaurant in the last three weeks to be investigated after illnesses were reported.

On April 1, Wild Chef Japanese Steakhouse Grill and Bar voluntarily shut down after people who dined there reported getting sick. The Ottawa County Health Department later said that approximately 300 people had contracted norovirus.

And in late March, as many as 40 people reported norovirus-like symptoms after eating at the Beltline Bar in Grand Rapids.

Shane Green of the Kent County Health Department said there has been an rise in norovirus cases in the last few years, but only by a few percentage points. There is typically an increase in reported cases during the winter months, when a new strain emerges or when public awareness — which is where social media comes into play.

He said an outbreak isn’t always a restaurant’s fault — sometimes the virus is introduced by a customers.

“Norovirus virus comes out in vomit and the disbursal range is up to 35 feet around you, so that means everything within 35 feet of you now contains that virus,” Green said.

That includes the air — the virus can be breathed in. Only a tenth of an already-microscopic particle can make you sick.

The best ways to avoid catching or spreading the illness is by washing your hands frequently and cleaning surfaces — particularly those where you prepare food — with a bleach solution.

24 Hour News 8’s Heather Walker contributed to this report.

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