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The Daily Northwestern

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Evanston investigating norovirus outbreak linked to Big Wig Tacos student deal

NU%E2%80%99s+student+health+center.+Evanston+is+collaborating+with+Northwestern+to+investigate+the+outbreak+of+norovirus%2C+and+the+University+has+begun+collecting+stool+samples.
Daily file photo by Joshua Hoffman
NU’s student health center. Evanston is collaborating with Northwestern to investigate the outbreak of norovirus, and the University has begun collecting stool samples.

With Northwestern students reporting widespread illness following a promotional deal at Big Wig Tacos & Burritos, local authorities are investigating the event as a confirmed outbreak of norovirus, the city announced in a Wednesday release.

The outbreak originated at an event held Saturday at Big Wig Tacos, located at 950 Church St., which offered $1 burritos for NU students from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. The Evanston Health and Human Services Department started receiving complaints on Monday, and students have flooded social media with reports of food poisoning.

Norovirus is a highly contagious disease. Symptoms include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and stomach pain. Symptoms typically develop within 12 to 48 hours, and affected individuals often recover within one to three days. The virus spreads through direct contact with someone with norovirus or by eating, drinking or touching anything contaminated with the disease.

After receiving initial complaints Monday, the city “immediately and thoroughly” investigated Big Wig, reviewing all cleaning and sanitizing procedures and examining the establishment’s health policy. Big Wig was compliant through all inspections conducted, the release said.

Big Wig Tacos CEO Jose Manolo Estrada said in a statement that the city’s health department found no issues with the establishment, and that Big Wig is “taking extra steps to thoroughly clean and sanitize, with a particular focus on areas that may be susceptible to the transmission of viruses.”

“Understanding that norovirus outbreaks are more common in settings like colleges and universities, we want to emphasize our commitment to the health and well-being of our patrons and staff,” the statement reads. “While there have been reported cases, we are not certain that the outbreak originated at our restaurant.”

The city is also working with Northwestern officials to investigate the outbreak, and students said Northwestern has begun collecting stool samples from those affected. The University did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

To prevent norovirus, the city’s release recommends residents to “wash your hands thoroughly and often with soap and water. Avoid preparing food for others, or working in a daycare center, healthcare facility, or food service establishment if you have gastrointestinal symptoms.” 

The city is also encouraging anyone who has recently dined at Big Wig to fill out a questionnaire, whether or not they have experienced any symptoms.

This story is developing and will be updated as more information becomes available.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @lilylcarey

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