According to Wake County health officials, the exact cause of personal injury through illness among 280 people who ate at the 42nd St. Oyster Bar in downtown Raleigh may never be known.


Approximately 280 people reported falling ill after consuming food from the popular West Jones Street restaurant between late November and late December.


Wake County environmental health and safety director Andre Pierce said the department was able to obtain samples from six people who fell ill after eating at 42nd Street. Three of those samples tested positive for norovirus, a common stomach virus that causes severe vomiting and diarrhea. The issue is determining the source.


Pierce says that it is easy for a small dose of norovirus to be transmitted among groups of people, meaning that it could have been brought in by a patron or a food handler who was sick. However, he said, it is extremely difficult to determine the origin.


Norovirus can be transmitted through the consumption of food or drink contaminated by an infected person, touching contaminated surfaces, or consumption of contaminated shell fish. Very little of the virus is necessary for a person to fall ill.


After contracting the virus, it takes approximately 24-48 hours for symptoms to show.


Initially, 42nd Street owner Brad Hurley believed oysters from Louisiana caused the illnesses and the restaurant immediately stopped serving them, using only oysters from North Carolina. But Pierce said tests on the remaining Louisiana oysters were negative.

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