300 people reported becoming sick at Summerville Mexican restaurant

SUMMERVILLE, SC (WCSC) - Nearly 300 people reported becoming sick after eating at a Summerville Mexican restaurant in December.

That’s according to a new report released by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control involving the La Carreta restaurant on 1580 Old Troll Road which had temporarily closed on Dec. 5 after 10 people became ill.

At the time of the closure, a sign on the front door of the business stated,"Voluntarily closing until further notice. Sorry for the inconvenience. -Management."

The restaurant was reopened two weeks later.

DHEC released their findings of their investigation into La Carreta on Thursday in which they report more than 280 complaints were submitted to DHEC’s Food Safety Complaint system; according to DHEC, a single complainant may involve multiple individuals.

Following the initial complaints, authorities said there was an attempt to contact each complainant requesting that each person potentially impacted complete an online survey.

Officials say a total of 332 people completed the survey in which 290 people reported becoming sick after eating at the restaurant and 42 patrons said they did not have any signs of illness.

In addition, six patrons provided samples for testing, and each tested positive for norovirus, according to DHEC’s report.

During the initial stages of the investigation, DHEC officials said the symptoms suggested a “viral gastrointestinal illness” which is contagious and can cause vomiting and diarrhea.

Infection can be spread by direct contact with an ill person, consuming contaminated food or beverage, and or touching contaminated surfaces.

DHEC made an on-site visit on Dec. 5, and instructed the management regarding a recommended thorough, deep cleaning of the restaurant and exclusion of any ill employees.

Amber Widener says she got sick at La Carreta after eating there. Widener says she was violently ill for about 12 hours.

“Just vomiting, over and over again, literally like every hour on the hour," Widener said."It would relent for a little bit and then it would come back on, and it was horrible.”

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