What People In Minnesota Need To Know Before Before Dining Out

Last week, the Minnesota Department of Health issued a warning for residents of the state concerning the spread of the norovirus. With the return of hot weather and the implementation of the vaccine giving people inspiration to go out for meals, viruses that spread through contaminated food have perfect conditions for their proliferation.

"As COVID restrictions are lifting, please be aware that other communicable diseases such as norovirus are still a problem in Minnesota, and you can take measures to prevent spread among your staff and patrons," the department said in a statement shared by Food Safety News.

The main preventative measures that the Department of Health is suggesting is to keep restaurant workers at home until a full 24 hour period passes after they're free of symptoms of the norovirus, which commonly include vomiting and diarrhea. The other measures are to maintain a strict adherence to handwashing regulations and to use gloves or tongs instead of bare hands when preparing ready-made meals like store-bought sandwiches. Of course, considering how 2020 ravaged the restaurant industry, one would hope that these measures were already well in place anyway.

What's spreading around Minnesota?

Due to the vagaries of chance, the norovirus outbreak happens to look like a mangled typo of the coronavirus pandemic. While the norovirus is highly contagious, it does not pose the same level of general threat as COVID-19. On the CDC's website, the norovirus, which is also known as the stomach bug, is described as a very contagious virus that can infect anyone of any age, upon which it induces vomiting and diarrhea. It spreads through contact with fecal or vomit particles emitted by the infected person. These can live for a long time, which is why anyone sick must be sequestered during their ordeal.

While bad, the main treatment the CDC recommends is to drink lots of liquids, because the symptoms of norovirus can lead to dehydration, which in turn can lead to serious problems. That is the entirety of "How you treat norovirus" on the CDC website. Antibiotics won't work because viruses are immune to such preventatives.

This, however, is not to give license to flout the rules of basic hygiene. Rather, it is to reassure you that after a year's anxiety, the new spate of infections is not the same thing as what we've all been through in the last year. Minnesota may be experiencing a "serious" spike in norovirus, but just wash your hands and be sensible (via Gizmodo).