November 20, 2017

Outbreak Investigated at North American Lighting Event in AL

A possible food poisoning outbreak at a catered event hosted by North American Lighting Co. in Muscle Shoals, Alabama is being investigated by the Colbert and Lauderdale County Health Departments, in conjunction with the Alabama Department of Health (ADH).

 

Woman Stomach AcheThirty-six people have reported symptoms of gastrointestinal distress. The event was held on Sunday, October 15, 2017. Those sickened report vomiting and diarrhea lasting less than 24 hours.

Officials are not saying what bacteria they suspect, but these symptoms, with such short duration and fast onset, are indicative of Clostridium perfringens food poisoning. These types of outbreaks typically occur at restaurants, institutions, and during catered events.

Clostridium perfringens bacteria grow in food when the temperature of the food is between 40°F and 140°F. Large tubs of food can be mishandled by not refrigerating them promptly or not reheating them thoroughly. The center of these foods usually remains in the danger zone long enough for the bacteria to grow and produce a toxin. The illness is often mistaken for the “24 hour flu.” This type of food poisoning is almost never fatal.

The health department has inspected the source of the food. Some samples were sent to the ADA Bureau of Clinical Laboratories for testing. Patient specimens have also been collected and will be sent to the lab today. Officials have not said what foods they are testing, or if any patients in this outbreak have been hospitalized.

Dr. Karen Landers, District Medical Officer, said in a statement, “At this time, there is no indication of persons ill other than those who attended the event. If the ADPH determines that the food from the catered establishment is the source of the illness, it will release the name of the caterer.”

Local hospital emergency rooms and urgent care centers have been notified of the reported illness. The investigation is ongoing and additional information will be provided as it becomes available.

Officials are asking that anyone who attended that event and have been sick call the Colbert County Health Department at 256-383-1231. If you did attend that event and are sick, it’s a good idea to contact your doctor for medical advice.

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