The gastrointestinal illness outbreak associated with consuming food from Mighty Taco restaurants in Erie and Niagara counties in New York state has now sickened 158 people. There are 140 people sick in Erie county alone, according to Mary C. St. Mary of Erie County and a new press release from the Erie County Department of Health. Eighteen people are sick in Niagara County, according to that county’s health department.
The press release from Niagara County about this outbreak is from last week. Those numbers have not been updated since October 7, 2016. The case count has increased from 104 to 140 sickened in Erie County in the last week.
Those sickened have experienced nausea and vomiting. The patients ate refried beans from a Mighty Taco location in Erie County between September 30, 2016 and October 6, 2016. Dr. Gale Burstein, Erie County Commissioner of Health said, “there were no reports of illness associated with meals consumed at Mighty Taco after October 6. Suspect food products related to this investigation were removed from all Mighty Taco locations on October 6 and subsequently discarded.”
Lots of refried beans will be tested at the New York State Department of Health’s Wadsworth Center laboratories in Albany. There is no time frame or estimate as to when those results will be released.
Jeffrey Jurewicz, Senior Public Health Sanitarian for Erie County said, “during our onsite inspections of Mighty Taco’s Erie County locations, no additional food products or food handling practices were implicated. Mighty Taco’s food safety inspection record with our Department, across all their locations in Erie County, has been exceptional.”
The press release from Niagara County states, “recent inspections of all three Mighty Taco sites in Niagara County demonstrated food handling and preparation procedures met safe standards. Samples are being sent to the lab for testing. Testing may take several weeks of processing and analysis before results are available.” Niagara County is interviewing people reporting illness. They, along with state and federal officials, are also investigating food manufacturing, supplier, and distribution sites.
The symptoms of nausea and vomiting are consistent with several bacteria and norovirus. The pathogen involved in this particular outbreak has not yet been identified.
There is no news about whether any of those sickened have been hospitalized for their illness, or whether they have recovered or are still recovering. Patient age ranges have also not been released.
If you ate at a Mighty Taco restaurant in Erie County in late September or early October 2016 and have experienced these symptoms, see your doctor. You can also call the Erie County Department of Health to let them know you may be part of this outbreak.