Ill. health dept. throws
one sick Christmas party
Source of Article: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jDYfrwywK-frtrnId9UlVy3HlGAAD95815MO0
LAWRENCEVILLE, Ill. (AP) — Some health department workers in southern
Illinois think they may have discovered some contaminated food — at their own
office Christmas gathering.
After the Lawrence County Health Department had a buffet for 72 people at
a restaurant last week, 42 of the attendees suffered stomach problems,
including the head of the department, Phyllis Wells.
"I'm telling you, it got me down. I about passed out and everything
else," Wells said Monday. "It's not been funny. It's taken the
punch out of my whole Christmas."
Wells says the cause of the outbreak hasn't been pinpointed. But she
suspects the culprit was a norovirus — something
people get from contact with those infected, ingesting contaminated food or
drink, or by touching contaminated items and then their mouths.
For now, Wells says the common denominator appears to be cold diced ham
served in the salad bar.
"It may be that just a food handler was sick at the time and handled
some of the food they prepped for the meal," she said. "Or maybe it
was somebody who was sick who came to it and touched the handle and
Wells says it isn't lost on her that state health officials are now
investigating a restaurant where food-inspection and other public health
workers got sick.
"It's just my luck," she said, mustering a laugh. "Usually,
it's our job to investigate other things. But us getting sick is
There was no answer Monday at the restaurant. Wells says it's her
understanding the business hasn't reopened since the outbreak.