OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Investigators looking into the norovirus outbreak at the New Theatre Restaurant, 9229 Foster Street, have expanded the time period when they believe people were exposed to the virus.
On Thursday, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment said the number of people who have reported symptoms has ballooned from 100 to more than 390, and now includes patrons who attended between January 15 to January 17.
The Kansas Health Dept. considers 390 people a large number and says it has not ruled out any causes of the outbreak. While at first they believed the outbreak was limited to January 17th patrons, investigators are now hearing from people with symptoms as far back as January 15th.
One woman, Nancy Gilbertson, who attended the January 16th performance says she became so sick she ended up in the hospital, due to vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhea.
"The next night, wow, I got sicker than a dog," she said. "It hit hard and it hit fast."
Gilbertson was not tested for the norovirus and did not know for sure why she became so ill. She and her doctor speculated it was food poisoning. She chatted online with others who attended the New Theatre Restaurant and learned they were sick, too. She said she still suspects food contamination.
"All of the people who ate the chicken got food poisoning, same thing," she said.
However, Rob McGraw with the New Theatre Restaurant says evidence does not point to the kitchen.
"Our kitchen staff of 40, no one has come down with the norovirus, so we know it is not connected with the kitchen," McGraw said.
The only staff members who have been infected, according to McGraw, are three on the wait staff who served a man on January 17th. That customer tested positive for the norovirus.
After the outbreak the KDHE performed an inspection and found nine violations, which management says have been corrected. The issues included employees touching food with their bare hands, and touching cooked chicken after handling raw chicken.
The KDHE wants anyone who attended the New Theatre Restaurant to fill out a questionnaire. The online survey is available by clicking here.
Anyone with questions about the outbreak may call 1-877-427-7317- the KDHE Epidemiology Hotline.