May 28, 2024

Salmonella Javiana Outbreak at Chincoteague VA Cook Off Linked to Crab Shack Clam Chowder

The Salmonella javiana outbreak at the Chincoteague Chili Chowder Cook Off in Virginia was caused by Crab Shack Clam chowder. That event was held in Chincoteague, Virginia, on September 30, 2017. At least 180 people from at least ten states were sickened in that outbreak.


This strain of Salmonella was first identified by the Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services in human specimens. Healthcare providers and health officials from event attendees sent those samples. DCLS found the same strain in a sample of the chowder that was obtained from someone who was served the product during the event. There is no word on whether pulsed field-gel electrophoresis (PFGE) or whole genome sequencing (WGS) was used to identify the outbreak strain.

The event was sponsored by the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company. Many food vendors were present, which made identifying the culprit more difficult for public health officials.

About half of those who were sickened in this Salmonella javiana outbreak went to a doctor. Thirty-six people, or 20%, went to the emergency room. And eighteen people, or 10% of the outbreak total, were hospitalized for one or more nights because their illnesses were so severe. No deaths have been reported in this outbreak.

Public health officials posted on online survey, asking that anyone who attended that event respond. About 500 responses, from ill and non-ill persons, were added in 18 days. That survey has now been closed.

A final epidemiologic report on this Salmonella javiana outbreak will be posted within 30 days. Officials from the other nine states were ill persons were reported will contribute to the article.

Salmonella outbreaks are usually linked to poultry products, eggs, contaminated produce, and raw milk, although the bacteria can be found everywhere. Officials did not say if there was a particular ingredient in the chowder that may have been contaminated. Salmonella bacteria can grow in foods that are not cooled properly or not reheated to a safe temperature.

The symptoms of a Salmonella infection include abdominal and stomach cramps, fever, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea that may be bloody. Most people recover without medical treatment, but some do develop sepsis or dehydration that requires hospitalization.

If you attended that event and did experience those symptoms, please see your doctor. Salmonella infections can have long term health consequences, including reactive arthritis, eye irritation, high blood pressure, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Pritzker Hageman, America’s food safety law firm, successfully represents people harmed by adulterated and contaminated food products in outbreaks throughout the country. Its lawyers have won hundreds of millions of dollars for survivors of foodborne illness, including the largest verdict in American history for a child harmed by E. coli and subsequent hemolytic uremic syndrome. The firm also publishes the E-news site, Food Poisoning Bulletin,  a respected source for food safety news and information. Pritzker Hageman lawyers are regularly interviewed by major news outlets including the New York Times, CNN, and the Wall Street Journal. The firm also represents people harmed by pathogenic microorganisms in Legionnaires‘ disease, surgical site infection, and product liability cases.

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