Chipotle Mexican Grill temporarily closed the doors of one of its suburban Virginia franchises Monday after multiple customers reportedly contracted a stomach bug suspected to be the norovirus. According to Business Insider, several patrons of the Sterling restaurant first reported their symptoms on the crowdsourced website iwaspoisoned.com, stating they fell ill on Friday or Saturday after eating at the location.
Around eight customers reported that their symptoms included nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, severe stomach pain, and dehydration. According to one of the reports, one person was hospitalized twice after eating at the restaurant. The Loudoun County Health Department reported Wednesday that nearly 40 people were sickened by the virus.
Jim Marsden, Chipotle’s executive director of food safety, said in a statement that “the reported symptoms are consistent with norovirus.” Marsden says this outbreak is solely isolated to the Sterling location, and local health officials had been notified.
This isn’t the first time the fast-food chain has dealt with reports of an illness scandal. In August of 2015, over 200 people fell ill in California after eating at a location in Simi Valley. Later that year, Chipotle closed more than 40 stores in nine states after reports of an E. coli outbreak that sickened at least 52 people. Then, only a few days after that report, 120 Boston College students were sickened with the norovirus after eating at a location near campus.
Since then, the chain has worked diligently to regain their customer’s trust.
“Norovirus does not come from our food supply, and it is safe to eat at Chipotle,” Marsden said.
But the company’s stock took a tumble of more than 4 percent after the reports came out Tuesday, according to NBC News. By Wednesday afternoon, the stock rebounded a bit, but CNBC states that analysts are a bit hesitant in suggesting whether investors should purchase stock in Chipotle or not after the company’s recent struggles. Prior to this latest outbreak, the company’s stocks had been on the rise.
In a statement, Chipotle CEO Steve Ells says the restaurant has been working to diligently to fix the issue.
“The event that occurred at this restaurant is consistent with Norovirus which can be introduced by people into any closed environment like schools, cruise ships, nursing homes or restaurants.It is unfortunate that anyone became ill after visiting our restaurant, and when we learned of this issue, we took aggressive action to correct the problem and protect our customers.”
Chipotle reopened the Sterling location Wednesday after sanitation efforts were completed, CNN reports. Officials at health department continue to work to identify the cause of the outbreak.
“While the restaurant was closed, multiple teams performed complete sanitizations of all surfaces,” Ells said. “We also provided support to any customers or employees who had reported illness to ensure their well-being.”
[Featured Image by Scott Eisen/Stringer/Getty Images]