When News 10 first reported the norovirus outbreak Thursday night from the Delta Township Applebee's, 32 cases had been reported to the Barry-Eaton District Health Department. Friday, those numbers are growing.
Health officer Stephen Tackitt says more than 200 people called into the health department Friday morning reporting illness they potentially got from Applebee's.
"We're still getting phone calls, making contacts, interviewing ill people, both customers and employees," Tackitt says.
Before the health department can confirm these additional cases, they must interview each person. Norovirus is the leading cause of food illness in the country.
"It's very easily spread, usually by a fecal/oral type of contamination," he says. "It can become airborne. If someone's vomiting and you're in that area, you could become very susceptible."
Tackitt says the symptoms for having norovirus are similar to having the stomach flu; vomiting and diarrhea are trademark symptoms, and they usually come together.
The Delta Twp. Applebee's was closed Tuesday and Wednesday while the health department investigated. The restaurant is open now and Tackitt says there's no danger in eating there.
"They followed all of our guidelines for sanitizing."
The origin of this norovirus outbreak is still unknown, but it could have stemmed from something as simple as someone not washing their hands.
"It may sound silly, it may sound trite, but wash your hands very frequently" to prevent infection, Tackitt advises.
Health department officers urge anyone with norovirus to stay home from work, as not to infect co-workers or pass on the virus unknowingly.
They also ask anyone who suspects he or she became ill after visiting Applebee's to call them at 517-541-2641 or visit http://www.michigan.gov/healthwatch and click on the Applebee's icon.