Maumee doughnut shop to reopen after hundreds sickened with Noro - News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

Maumee doughnut shop to reopen after hundreds sickened with Norovirus

(Source: WTOL) (Source: WTOL)
(Source: WTOL) (Source: WTOL)

A Norovirus outbreak that was traced back to a local restaurant sickened more than 300 people with at least 19 secondary cases. The number of cases continues to climb, but has slowed.

On Friday afternoon, the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department cleared Mama C's Doughnuts to open. The donut shop will have a grand re-opening on August 14 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

"Please, anybody can come to Mama C's from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. There's a bounce house in the back, and of course donuts, don't forget the donuts," said Chandar Chao, who owns Mama C's with her husband, Yann.

The shop had voluntarily closed its doors after the outbreak.

"Well, this could happen to anyone, there are a lot of local businesses and this could happen to them and people come back and support them. So I think it's very important that people come back and support Mama C's," said longtime customer Sheilah Coburn.

Samantha Eitniear, lead epidemiologist with the health department, tells WTOL they are satisfied with the voluntary deep cleaning that was conducted by a private company, J & R Contracting.

The health department says they inspected every surface and deemed it clean.  Additionally, the health department discussed with employees and owners maintaining proper health logs, food handling, and using gloves.

As of Friday afternoon, the health department believes there should not be any more primary cases than those reported.

However, the possibility exists that secondary cases may continue to arise because of exposure to those who currently have been diagnosed w/ the Norovirus.

The health department advises those with a confirmed case of Norovirus to remain isolated from others and for anyone in contact with a Norovirus patient to practice personal hygiene, including diligently washing hands.

The Toledo Lucas County Health Department also believes the virus was foodborne instead of an environmental issue.

"I would suspect this is a foodborne illness. Again, Norovirus is a flu-like stomach bug, if you will. And that's what we see, that's what it's pointing to again. Where did it actually come from? Was it food contact surface or was it an affected food service worker?" said health commissioner Eric Zgodinski. "I was texted Sunday morning about 2 a.m. or so that there was something going on. Monday morning, we came in and started the investigation and found out that at this point in time the investigation is looking to Mama C's out in Maumee relative to a Norovirus outbreak."

The health department said people typically become sick 24 to 48 hours after exposure to the virus, with symptoms lasting one to two days.

However, people who had the virus can spread it up to two weeks after the symptoms go away. There are 19 individuals who have contracted Norovirus second-hand from the initial patients. 

Norovirus is spread through contact with infected individuals or through contaminated food prepared by a person who is currently or was recently ill.

The health department said Norovirus is common this time of year, and those affected should refrain from handling and working with food for at least three days after their symptoms go away.

Zgodinski said the outbreak is slowing down, but the health department wants to make sure they limit the spread as much as possible.

"We talk about washing our hands and that is so important," Zgodinski said. "If you are sick though, use another bathroom in your house from the other bathrooms your family is using. Wipe down surfaces."

Zgodinski also says doing laundry with hot water can help prevent the spread of the disease.

Kelly Walkup, Maumee resident and mother of four, said she was shocked to hear about the outbreak.

"I was a little surprised, and kind of scared because we had just gone to eat donuts there the day before the news came out that the virus had hit. No one got sick, so we were pretty surprised," Walkup said.

The restaurant voluntarily closed for cleaning on August 8 and hired a professional cleaning service to deep-clean the restaurant. The cleaners used a special disinfectant to treat the Norovirus. The deep cleaning finished Friday.

Yann and Chandar Chao have owned Mama C's for 14 years and say their customers are apart of their family.

"We want to serve them the best donuts. They are enjoyable and we see little kids come in as babies, they grow up and go to high school, they still come here. It means a lot for us to be in business and have a good customer relationship," Chandar said.

Walkup said she wouldn't hold it against Mama C's if she or her children get sick.

"People are pretty quick to shame them, but it can happen anywhere. I mean, I clean, but my goodness, my house could be carrying a virus for all I know with the people coming in and out, touching things. I think it's super unfortunate. We are definitely going to give them a second chance," said Walkup.

Zgodinski says this incident is an unfortunate reminder that it is the beginning of virus season, and to always remember to wash your hands and clean hard surfaces.

Anyone who is suffering from these symptoms and would like more information can call the health department at 419-213-4264 or 419-213-4161.

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