August 25, 2019

Firefly Salmonella Outbreak Likely Caused by Chorizo

The Southern Nevada Health District has released a new report on the Salmonella outbreak linked to the Firefly on Paradise tapas restaurant in Las Vegas. They say that “the outbreak strain of Salmonella was isolated from cooked chorizo,” a type of spicy sausage. That outbreak has now sickened at least 294 people, far more than the 200 ill persons in the last report. The Salmonella serotype I:4,5,12:i- responsible for this outbreak doesn’t match any other Salmonella cases in the entire country. Seventy-three cases are confirmed as part of the outbreak through DNA testing; the others are considered “probable”.

Salmonella OutbreakThe chorizo arrived at the restaurant uncooked and was cooked on site. No raw chorizo was available for testing. The chorizo was one of the foods identified in an earlier report as being a likely   source of the outbreak and was tested for the bacteria. Since the bacteria was found on the cooked product, if the sausage was heated to a safe temperature, signs point to cross-contamination. Cross-contamination can take place between any foods in a kitchen, whether it’s a consumer kitchen or a commercial one.

The Southern Nevada Public Health Laboratory is sending the outbreak strain of Salmonella isolates to the CDC for “multiple-locus variable number tandem repeat analysis”, a method that types microorganisms to pinpoint transmission routes and sources of infection. Officials are also going to perform a trace-back of the chorizo to see if they can discover if the meat was contaminated off-site, but they think this is unlikely.

Public health officials say that the rate of cases being reported has declined significantly, with “no evidence of any disease transmission after the closure of the restaurant on April 26, 2013.” The official report states that “it is likely that the outbreak was due to local cross-contamination in the restaurant’s kitchen and not from a contaminated commercial food.”

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