BOSTON, Dec. 9 (UPI) -- The Massachusetts Department of Health said the norovirus caused an outbreak that sickened at least 120 Boston College students, including some basketball players, who ate at a nearby Chipotle restaurant.
Many students at the school feared they were afflicted with E. coli. The restaurant in the Brighton neighborhood was not linked to the nationwide E. coli outbreak in nine states that has sickened at least 52 people since October.
"Initial testing conducted by the state public health has shown the presence of norovirus," the health department said in a statement.
The Cleveland Circle Chipotle was voluntarily closed down after an inspection revealed cooked chicken was being kept at too low of a temperature. An employee also worked while showing signs of illness, prompting the closure amid the outbreak.
"Health officials in Boston believe this is likely a norovirus, which seems consistent with the pattern, in our estimation," Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold told NBC News.
Almost all the students who fell ill confirmed they ate at the Chipotle restaurant. The norovirus shares similar symptoms to E. coli exposure, including diarrhea and abdominal pain, but the norovirus is more likely to cause vomiting
"In preparation to reopen, we are conducting a full sanitization procedure, surveying our employees to be sure none are sick (as a matter of policy, any sick employees will be held out of work until they are healthy and cleared to return), and working with health officials while they conduct their review of this," Arnold told the Boston Globe.