Possible foodborne illness outbreak at Raleigh (N.C.) student leadership conference

WRAL is reporting that 5 students have been hospitalized and more than 150 students fell ill after eating a common meal on Friday February 12.  All of the ill were attending a YMCA leadership event at the Raleigh Sheraton and attended a banquet at the Raleigh Convention Center.

Some attendees reported stomach discomfort, vomiting and diarrhea early Saturday morning, Perry said. As the reports increased, conference leaders called emergency personnel.

Most of the sick students were isolated, treated and returned to conference activities, Perry said. By early afternoon, about 150 students had been treated. Five had to be taken to the hospital.

Students came from across the state to attend. Conference leaders called the parents of students who got sick, and some parents had started to arrive at the Sheraton by Saturday afternoon. Organizers have provided a phone line at 1-800-834-2105 for concerned parents to call for more information.

“At this time, we don’t know the cause of the illness,” said Wake County EMS Medical Director Brent Myers. “We are working with the Wake County epidemiological team to investigate the cause of this illness. It is important that parents of the young people attending the conference know that we are taking good care of everyone.”

Perry said food poisoning could be a possibility. All the students attended a banquet at the Raleigh Convention Center Friday night, he said.

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About Ben Chapman

Dr. Ben Chapman is an associate professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University. As a teenager, a Saturday afternoon viewing of the classic cable movie, Outbreak, sparked his interest in pathogens and public health. With the goal of less foodborne illness, his group designs, implements, and evaluates food safety strategies, messages, and media from farm-to-fork. Through reality-based research, Chapman investigates behaviors and creates interventions aimed at amateur and professional food handlers, managers, and organizational decision-makers; the gate keepers of safe food. Ben co-hosts a biweekly podcast called Food Safety Talk and tries to further engage folks online through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and, maybe not surprisingly, Pinterest. Follow on Twitter @benjaminchapman.