The food poisoning outbreak at Golden Ponds restaurant at 500 Long Pond Road, in Greece, New York on Thanksgiving Day, 2016 may have been caused by one of three pathogens. The usual suspects in this type of outbreak include Salmonella, E. coli, norovirus, and Campylobacter.
But the fast onset of symptoms and the fact that the primary symptoms were violent diarrhea and severe stomach cramps has narrowed the list of suspects down to three: Clostridium perfringens, Bacillus cereus, and a strain of Staphylococcus aureus, according to the Democrat and Chronicle. All of those bacteria produce toxins that act quickly in the body.
Stool samples and food samples are still being cultured in the New York State Health Department’s Wadsworth Center laboratory in Albany. The health department was able to collect food samples served at the meal in question because people reported their illnesses so quickly.
Testing for those three pathogens takes longer than the standard testing for more common pathogens. Finding the specific pathogen takes longer because those bacteria are more difficult to isolate. Food and stool samples can contain hundreds or thousands of different kinds and species of bacteria.
According to the Democrat and Chronicle, a health inspector reported that the restaurant was in need of a massive cleaning. Violations noted at an inspection on November 16, 2016 included the presence of rodents and insects, which can spread disease, and poorly constructed walls and floors that were difficult to clean. And food contact surfaces were not cleaned and sanitized after each use, which can lead to cross-contamination.
At least 260 people were sickened in this outbreak, and four people were hospitalized because their illness was so severe. People can be hospitalized because of dehydration or sepsis, which is a bacterial infection in the blood. All of those who were hospitalized have been released.