Several reports of people becoming sick after eating at Souvlaki’s last week are a part of a regional outbreak of Norovirus.
According to Robert Parker, a Virginia Department of Health spokesman, more than 100 individuals in the district have been affected.
According to Souvlaki’s owner Mike Buchanan, the virus entered the facility last Tuesday when an employee came to work and then became sick in the women’s bathroom.
He said that employee, who was not a student, did not feel sick when she came to work.
“It was literally heartbreaking for me, I lost a good employee because of it,” Buchanan said. “It literally brings me to tears sitting here talking to you about it, because I feel like I’m going to lose business.”
Buchanan said that he was not at the restaurant when the incident occurred, but arrived quickly after and cleaned up the mess.
“I feel like I did what I thought was right,” Buchanan said. “I take pride in the food I serve here and I take pride in my customers.”
Marla Willis, an inspector from the Virginia Department of Health came that day to confirm that Norovirus had been the culprit.
Willis declined to comment on the specifics of the incident because of privacy concerns.
The following day, Souvlaki’s was closed while Buchanan and his employees cleaned the restaurant according to state standards.
“I sanitized the restaurant from top to bottom. I threw out all the food that had been prepared or open that day,” Buchanan said.
Parker said that Norovirus is a common gastrointestinal illness at this time of year, which is very contagious, especially in close living environments.
He said that the last time an outbreak occurred in the area was about four years ago near Radford.
Because students living in dorms are especially susceptible to catching the virus, an e-mail notification was sent out to warn students about the outbreak.
“When we heard that there was Norovirus circulating in the community, we sent out the notice as a preventative measure in response to the Virginia Department of Health notice,” said Ken Belcher, senior associate director of Housing Services.
Belcher said he could not say where the virus originated, but added the best way to avoid catching it is to wash your hands.