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January 9th, 2013 12:01 am WW Editorial Staff | Murmurs

Murmurs: Oregon Zoo’s Norovirus Woes

Would you like fries with that?

murmurs_zoo_3910ZOO DINNER - IMAGE: Rob Rudloff
  • The Oregon Zoo has apologized to a family whose 9-month-old son needed emergency medical attention after getting sick following a meal at the zoo’s Cascade Grill. Mitali Kulkarni says she and her husband also got sick in what they suspect was part of a Dec. 5-7 norovirus outbreak linked to food served at zoo restaurants. State officials believe as many as 135 people got sick from the virus, which causes severe vomiting and diarrhea. WW reported Dec. 26 that the zoo hasn’t had a county health inspection since 2006—thanks to an exemption in state law for government-owned restaurants. County officials told WW the zoo had earlier turned down offers of voluntary inspections. Kulkarni emailed the zoo after hearing that news to express her disappointment. The reply she got back read in part: “The zoo is fully in compliance with all health regulations and contrary to what has been reported or implied, the zoo has not refused inspections.” It was signed: “Sincerely, Oregon Zoo.” Zoo officials argue there’s no link between the outbreak and a lack of inspections, and a spokeswoman says only two people contacted the zoo about getting sick. Kulkarni—whose son had to go to an ER because of dehydration—says the experience was very traumatic. “They should be warning people—or something—you can’t take chances with kids,” she tells WW. “They basically shunned their responsibility.”
  • New City Commissioner Steve Novick has wasted no time publicizing his ambitious agenda, including items over which City Hall has little say. On his official blog, Novick suggests reform ideas he talked about on the campaign trail. Included on the list: He wants prosecutors to ask for shorter sentences and use money saved from lower prison costs to fund crime prevention. Novick also wants more Portland houses bolted to their foundations to prepare for a Cascadian earthquake—and makes a tongue-in-cheek plea to Oregon’s Daddy Warbucks to help pay for it. “Phil Knight gave $100 million to Oregon Health & Science University,” Novick writes. “If he would pay the same amount to bolt down 29,411 houses, here’s one vote for putting a swoosh on the entrance to City Hall.”
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