A single diner was responsible for an outbreak which left 52 customers at a restaurant with a range of symptoms of infection from a Norwalk-like virus, the New Scientist has just reported.
Public health scientists mapped the spread of infection - and discovered it was centred on the seat occupied by the diner, who vomited during a busy night at the hotel in Derby, England, in December 1999.
One person vomited, and 52 fell ill.
A total of 126 people were seated at six tables when the diner vomited. Staff cleaned up and the meals continued.
But three days later other diners began falling ill. When local health investigators were called in, they could not find a source of infection in the kitchen.
But when they drew a map of the spread of the disease, they found that 90 per cent of people on one table - where the sick diner was - had fallen ill.
On a neighbouring table more than 70 per cent succumbed to the virus. And on a table on the far side of the restaurant 25 per cent of diners fell ill.
Roy Fey, of Southern Derbyshire Health Authority, told the New Scientist that literature searches had revealed similar cases where a sick person spread a virus right across a dining area.
Bernard Betts, director of the Microbiology Research Unit at York University, England, told the journal: "Just a single drop of material hitting a hard surface can produce an aerosol that travels a very long way."
Report Copyright: Englemed Health News at http://www.internationalmedicalnews.com