Fingering the source of an outbreak is tough. Sometimes the epidemiology is messy and the data doesn’t correlate specific foods to illnesses. In a week where the food safety world lost Bill Keene, a pioneer of solving outbreaks, a cluster of salmonellosis illnesses linked to a church dinner in Shelby, NC goes unsolved.
According to the Shelby Star, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Division of Public Health has released a report detailing the investigation of 104 illnesses associated with eating at fundraiser for Sandy Plains Church.
“Given the limited nature of the menu at this event, these findings are not surprising,” officials said in the health report. “Most barbecue patrons who were interviewed ate a majority, if not all, of the available food items except desserts.”
A study of 165 people who attended the event—both ill and not ill—was conducted by the NC Department of Health and Human Services Division of Public Health. Out of that study, 104 cases met the definition of experiencing diarrhea within seven days of consuming food or drinks from the barbecue event.
“The PFGE pattern of these outbreak strains had only been seen on two other occasions outside of North Carolina, indicating that the source of the outbreak was something at the Sandy Plains barbecue and not a contaminated product from a different source,” the report reads.