Williamson County

Norovirus likely caused 110 to get sick at Round Rock High banquet

ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) - Two stool samples from people who attended the Round Rock High School baseball team banquet last week have tested positive for norovirus.

The Williamson County & Cities Health District confirmed the cases Monday evening — one week after the banquet was catered by La Margarita Mexican Restaurant in Round Rock.

The agency, which has completed interviewing all of the people who made complaints, says it's likely that the 110 people who got sick had norovirus. Spokesperson Deb Strahler says the definitive source of the infection is still — and may remain — unknown. 

WCCHD executive director John Teel says the agency believes norovirus is also what sickened smaller numbers of people who dined at La Margarita on April 30 through May 2.

"It does indicate that at least one [employee] had been sick with norovirus," Teel said. "It’s compelling evidence that the source of the norovirus is someone in that restaurant. Someone or something." 

The Round Rock Independent School District said nearly half of the people who attended the banquet on April 30 became ill. The attendees who experienced vomiting and/or gastrointestinal issues said they developed it a day after eating the food. 

On Thursday, May 3, owners of La Margarita shut down the restaurant so they could conduct a deep clean and throw away all the food that was already prepared. Items such as guacamole, salsa and fajitas were all thrown out.

Monday, the restaurant manager told KXAN none of the staff in charge of the event were sick. He says the news of the banquet outbreak may have influenced others who dined in at the restaurant around the same time to think an illness was related to La Margarita. 

The health department has given the all clear for the restaurant. 

"It is likely that this particular outbreak has run its course and is over, and we, the health district has no reason to suspect that it's unsafe to eat there at all," Teel said.

La Margarita is not facing any fines and is not expected to. Teel says they have a "very good" inspection record. 

What is norovirus?

A person can get norovirus from an infected person, contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the virus causes your stomach or intestines or both to get inflamed. Symptoms include: stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. 

A person usually develops symptoms 12-48 hours after being exposed to norovirus. 

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