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45 sickened by suspected norovirus at Waikiki eatery

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    Herringbone Waikiki in the International Market Place has been closed due to a suspected norovirus. At least 29 fell ill after dining at the eatery.

At least 45 people became ill after dining at a popular Waikiki restaurant at the International Market Place, state Department of Health officials said today. Some of the cases have been confirmed as the norovirus.

Herringbone Waikiki voluntarily closed Thursday due to the reported illnesses and is working with inspectors from the Health Department.

Staff cleaned and sanitized the restaurant which has been cleared to reopen after inspectors went to the restaurant today, according to a restaurant spokeswoman. It’s unclear at this time, however, when the restaurant will reopen its doors.

Herringbone’s marketing manager Rob Mora said in a statement, “The well-being of our guests is of paramount important to us and remains our absolute priority.

“We have worked closely with the DOH since the first reports of illness were received. We are grateful to them for their help and support,” he said.

Health Department officials said they are aware of 45 people who became ill from a suspected norovirus after dining at the restaurant, but all have recovered after one to two days.

The department received a call Monday from a person who reported becoming ill after dining at the restaurant with a group of people last weekend. The individual reported all five from the group became ill. An investigation was initiated when the department received additional calls from patrons who reported becoming ill after dining at the restaurant, officials said.

Food safety inspectors visited the restaurant Tuesday to investigate and collect samples, Health Department spokeswoman Janice Okubo said. Health inspectors also went to the restaurant Thursday and returned today.

A report filed by inspectors said the establishment “must sanitize floors, furniture, walls” and any other surfaces where the norovirus might be present.

The report also said, “Any products that are open or possibly contaminated by the virus must be thrown away: such as single-use and single-service items, straws, paper towels, oysters, open packages of fish, flour, etc.”

“Exposure appears to have been limited to those dining at the restaurant over the past weekend,” Okubo said in an e-mailed statement. “The investigation is still underway with lab test results pending.

Mora said, “All Herringbone staff undergo intensive training regarding hygiene and compliance with DOH standards is constantly monitored.”

Norovirus is a leading cause of illnesses from contaminated food, and infected employees are a frequent source of the outbreaks. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea and nausea. Overall, one out of six Americans get sick each year by consuming contaminated food or drinks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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