KHTS News Director, Perry Smith contributed to this story.
At least 17 CalArts students at became ill by Wednesday, according to reports from students, in an incident that’s under investigation by the Los Angeles County’s Department of Public Health.
A number of Cal Arts students are reportedly experiencing “gastrointestinal, flu-like” symptoms, according to Margaret Crane, Cal Arts media relations manager.
School officials are working to determine where the illness originated and are investigating a number of locations including the campus cafeteria, Crane said. The cafeteria has been closed since Wednesday, she said.
Los Angeles County Department of Public Health officials are investigating the cause of the illnesses, according to Bonnie Powell, Director of Communications for Bon Appetite, the food services management company that operates the kitchen at the Valencia campus.
Public Health officials said Thursday their investigation is in its preliminary phase. In a statement released Thursday afternoon The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health confirmed they are “investigating 16 cases of suspected norovirus at Cal Arts in Santa Clarita.”
“We continue to work closely with the Cal Arts Administration to identify any students or staff who may be displaying symptoms, conduct interviews of cases, inspect facilities and provide education on norovirus prevention. Because of medical confidentiality and privacy, Public Health will not comment on the details of individual cases or their contacts.”
One student, who asked to remain anonymous, said the illnesses began shortly after an event known as “Chef’s Day” in the school’s cafeteria.
Numerous reports from CalArts students on Facebook describe illness and concerns about the food.
Powell suggested it might be norovirus, but officials at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital have not yet confirmed an outbreak of the highly contagious illness.
Norovirus can be spread by an infected person, contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces, according to the Centers for Disease Control website.
The virus causes your stomach or intestines or both to get inflamed, known as acute gastroenteritis.
This can cause stomach pain, nausea and diarrhea and vomiting, according to the site.
Bon Appétit Management Company is an onsite restaurant company that provides café and catering services to corporations, colleges and universities and specialty venues.
It has more than 500 locations in 32 states.