Health officials conclude disease outbreak linked to DC Cobb restaurant in McHenry that has sickened 173 people

File photo – DC Cobb’s at McHenry | Photo: Google Street View

Health officials say norovirus was identified as the disease that led to an outbreak at DC Cobb’s in McHenry, which left more than 160 customers sick after eating at the restaurant.

The McHenry County Health Department (MCDH) reported Sept. 13 that it is investigating an outbreak of gastrointestinal illness linked to DC Cobb’s, located at 1204 North Green Street in McHenry.

The health department identified an outbreak at the business after receiving complaints initially from 13 people who fell ill after eating at the facility.

Those who ate at the establishment in late August and early September were asked to complete a survey to help the MCDH in its investigation.

The health department announced on Friday that it had completed its investigation into the outbreak.

“Foodborne illness investigations are a top priority to protect public health. The MCDH investigation team appreciates the cooperation of the public in bringing this complex investigation to a close,” said Susan Karras, director of public health nursing at MCDH.

“The final report demonstrates the dedication and high-level work the MCDH team does every day to protect public health in McHenry County,” Karras said.

A department spokesperson said 168 customers and five staff members have been identified as having fallen ill from the outbreak.

Norovirus was identified as the pathogen involved, but the investigation could not determine exactly how it was brought into the restaurant, the spokesperson said.

Norovirus is a highly contagious virus that spreads quickly from person to person or through contaminated objects and it cannot be treated with antibiotics, health officials said.

The health department conducted inspections and provided corrective action to the restaurant.

“DC Cobb’s management has fully cooperated with the disease investigation team and continues to work with Environmental Health Division staff to implement additional strategies to prevent future public health issues.” said Patti Nomm, MCDH’s director of environmental health.

According to the final report, inspectors noted more than 30 health and safety issues at DC Cobb during their inspections.

An employee preparing food was seen chewing gum and an employee who wore gloves and prepared food had wiped down his gloves with a soiled rag and then handled clean dishes.

The report indicates that food preparations were not always carried out in approved areas. “Failure to carry out food preparations in approved areas, equipped with washbasins. Observed a branding iron in the basement break area. The hamburger buns were marked with the “DC” logo in this area. »

There were no disposable paper towels in the washing up kitchen sinks, the report said, adding that an employee was spotted using a soiled rag to dry his hands in the area.

The report lists numerous other examples of improper food handling and problems, including sick employees returning to work within 24 hours of gastrointestinal illness.

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