Fayette County

Fayette Mall food court virus that sickened 350 identified by health department

The cause for 350 people becoming sick after eating at the Fayette Mall food court and the subsequent shutdown of the area has been identified as norovirus, according to the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department.

Norovirus is a very contagious virus that can easily be spread through direct contact with an infected person by consuming contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces then putting your unwashed hands near your mouth, the health department said.

Fayette Mall’s Chick-fil-A voluntarily closed Friday when a large number of its employees reported becoming ill.

Monday, the Fayette Mall closed its food court altogether so it could clean and sanitize. It required its tenants to do the same.

The food court reopened at 2 p.m. Tuesday after being cleaned, sanitized and inspected by the health department. Tables, chairs, corridors, floors, restrooms and the children’s play area were cleaned prior to reopening, the mall’s statement said.

The health department’s Environmental Health inspectors visited the site again Thursday.

Most of the people who reported the illness became sick 24 to 48 hours after eating at the food court. They experienced fever, vomiting and diarrhea, which is consistent with norovirus symptoms.

The best prevention for norovirus is to wash your hands often and stay home when sick for two days after the symptoms stop, the health department said.