Health officials: Norovirus present at Boston Chipotle

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BOSTON (AP) — More than 120 Boston College students have fallen ill, and public health officials confirmed the presence of norovirus at a Chipotle restaurant at the center of the outbreak.

The Boston Public Health Commission said late Wednesday that lab testing has confirmed the presence of the gastrointestinal illness, which causes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, at the Chipotle restaurant in the city's Cleveland Circle neighborhood, near the Boston College campus.

Boston College's director of university health services also said Wednesday that the number of impacted students continues to climb after initial reports surfaced Monday.

More than 120 students, including members of the men's basketball team, have now reported norovirus-like symptoms, according to Dr. Thomas Nary. Nearly all say they ate at the Chipotle restaurant near campus, he said.

City health officials say they've only been able to confirm 80 cases, including Boston College students and other restaurant patrons. The restaurant remains closed as the investigation continues.

Boston College says it's also taking precautions, including ending salad bars and other self-service food areas in its dining halls as of noon Wednesday. Students showing symptoms can also seek special accommodations as end-of-semester finals run from Dec. 12 to 19.

A spokesman for Denver-based Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. says the Boston College illnesses are likely isolated and not related to the E. coli cases that have turned up in the company's restaurants in nine states.

Officials say a restaurant employee was sick during a shift last week and may have caused the outbreak. They're advising residents to take proper precautions to prevent spread of illness, including washing hands regularly and avoiding close contact or sharing food and drink with others who might be ill.

They say Boston College has reported that some of the students' roommates have also contracted the highly contagious illness, which is typically spread by contaminated food, improper hygiene, and contact with contaminated surfaces.

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