May 24, 2024

Fond du Lac E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak from Jim-N-Jos Northland Katering

The Minnesota Department of Health has released a report on the E. coli O157:H7 outbreak that sickened people at the picnic for Elders of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and other events. The picnic¬†was held on July 11, 2014 and was catered by Jim-N-Jo’s Northland Katering. The caterer is licensed by the University of Minnesota and operated out of the Cloquet Forestry Center.¬†Jim-N-Jo’s catered at least 12 events in the Upper Midwest from July 5 to July 17, 2014. Five of those events resulted in illness and 57 patients met the outbreak criteria.

Potato Salad FPBThe Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Minnesota Department of Environmental Health, and MDH Tribal Relations conducted an investigation into this outbreak. They interviewed 199 individuals from seven catered events. Of these, 74, or 37% reported recent gastrointestinal illnesses. Fifty seven people met the case definition. Of those 57 people, 48 lived in Minnesota, four in Wisconsin, 2 in Alabama, and one each in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio.

The median case age was 62 years, and the patient age range was from 4 to 85 years. All cases reported diarrhea, and almost all reported cramps. Sixty-one percent had bloody stools, 37% vomiting, and 19% reported fever. Illness onset dates ranged from July 8 to July 23, 2014. Twenty-one people sought care at a clinic. Nine people were hospitalized. No one was diagnosed with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) and no one died as a result of their illness.

Raw celery and onions were the only food items served at all five events with identified cases. Potato Salad, which included celery and onions, was contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 that matched the outbreak strain. The celery was traced back to a field near Gonzales, California that was right next to a defunct dairy operation.

The caterer ordered all fresh produced from Upper Lakes Foods. ULF sent bills of lading from ProAct, Inc. and Mann Packing Co. to investigators. The celery was traced back to Martignoni Ranch block 5c in the Salinas Valley. Investigators with California and the FDA visited the field in August 2o14, but didn’t identify cross-contamination issues. No E. coli were found in water and soil samples, so the investigation was closed.

The conclusion reached is that the foodborne outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections were associated with multiple events catered by Jim-N-Jo’s Katering. Potato salad served at three events was contaminated with the pathogenic bacteria, identified by PFGE. Two other events where the potato salad was not served sickened people, but celery from the same shipment as the celery in the potato salad was served. Contaminated celery was the most likely vehicle of transmission. The source of the bacteria was not identified, but field sampling was limited.

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