About 75 people are recovering after a norovirus outbreak at a celebration for the Totino Grace High School football team in Brooklyn Park, but health officials aren't sure where it started.
What was supposed to be a joyous banquet wound up leaving a bad taste in dozens of peoples' mouths, and doctors say there really is no medicine to treat the symptoms of the nasty virus. Instead, the only thing that can be done is allow it to run its unpleasant course.
It was a season to remember for senior Jake Beckman, Andrew Lyons and the rest of the football team. They finished the season 9 and 3, and last Sunday, the team -- along with hundreds of friends and family members -- at a dining hall at Edinburgh USA in Brooklyn Park.
The attendees dressed up and noshed on turkey, prime rib, mashed potatoes and gravy -- but they got more than an all-you-can-eat buffet. A day or two later, dozens of people were feeling sluggish, tired. Then, the vomit and diarrhea set in.
According to head football coach Jeff Ferguson, 75 of the 273 people who attended got sick with similar symptoms; however, Ferguson managed to avoid sharing their fate.
"Maybe it was something that I did not eat. I don't know; I'm not an epidemiologist," Ferguson said.
Officials with the Minnesota Department of Health highly suspect the mass illness can be blamed on the norovirus based on the symptoms, the incubation period, and how the illnesses presented themselves -- especially since norovirus is extremely contagious and can infect anyone.
Norovirus typically comes from fecal matter, and can also appear in the vomit of infected people; however, no one is sure how the infection began. Edinburgh is a huge golf course owned by the city of Brooklyn Park, but the food operation on site is leased out to Lancer Catering. General Manager Dan Jacott told Fox 9 News the company is working with health officials to find the source of the outbreak.
Yet, despite it all, Ferguson said he's already looking forward to next year's get-together with the team.
"Edinburgh is a great place," he said. "We'd like to have our banquet there in the future."
Lancer Catering is a Mendota Heights company with dozens of other contracts with schools and large businesses in the Twin Cities. A spokesperson told Fox 9 News they have never had a norovirus outbreak at any of their other locations, and health officials confirm no other complaints have been made against them.