Could Food Poisoning Spoil the 2018 Winter Olympics?

Let’s certainly hope not!

However, CNN has reported that the South Korean military is essentially taking over the security operations for the games because 1,200 were exposed to norovirus. Many reports of illness and hospitalizations have been made public.

This highly contagious virus lives on surfaces, in water, and is most commonly spread through food. Like all foodborne illnesses, noro thrives and rapidly spreads in average temperatures. Prevention is essential to combat the virus.

Infections from noro will cause your body to do disgusting things, leaving you extremely dehydrated, cramped, and highly susceptible to sickness due to a weakened immune system.

You may ask: Are there any preventative measures to take in order to combat this foodborne illness? The CDC provides 4 basis tips to do so.

  • Practice proper hand hygiene
  • Handle and prepare food safely
  • Clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces
  • Wash laundry thoroughly

Imagine a young person spending 10,000 hours (or more) on becoming a world-class athlete in their respective sport and then making it all the way to the Olympics. The excitement and pride they would feel in representing their country on the world’s stage. Then imagine all of these hopes and dreams crushed by a common virus. What a travesty!

I sincerely hope that the South Koreans have caught this outbreak early enough and have taken all the right measures to make sure everyone at the games is safe. Sterilization of common surfaces, hand washing, and proper temperature control for foods are all fundamental in containment. These three acts should also be standard operating procedure regardless of ceremony or important event. In this case, the host country should also be testing the ground water for the virus, as this too can be a mechanism for further spreading illness.

I look forward to watching the Olympics. As a kid, my family attended several events during the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, NY and it was just thrilling. When I saw this news out of S. Korea on CNN, I thought -what a shame it would be if the games were negatively affected by such a preventable and unnecessary problem like norovirus.