Fire department function in Wawayanda N.Y. linked to apparent outbreak

Community gatherings around food awaken nostalgic feelings of the rural past — times when an entire town would get together monthly, eat, enjoy company and work together. And also, as CDC’s Rob Tauxe said in an article about new trends in foodborne pathogens, have created some of the easily traced foodborne illness outbreaks:

The traditional foodborne outbreak scenario often follows a church supper, family picnic, wedding reception, or other social event. This scenario involves an acute and highly local outbreak, with a high inoculum dose and a high attack rate. The outbreak is typically immediately apparent to those in the local group, who promptly involve medical and public health authorities. The investigation identifies a food-handling error in a small kitchen that occurs shortly before consumption. The solution is also local.

In September 2004, near Buffalo, N.Y., 28 confirmed cases of salmonella infection were reported following an annual community roast-beef dinner. Volunteers were not trained in food service and "didn’t quite understand the importance of maintaining a hot or cold temperature," investigators said.

According to the Hudson Valley Times Herald-Record (which must be some sort of a record for merged paper names), up to 30 people who attended a fire department event in Wawayanda N.Y. have been linked to an apparent foodborne illness outbreak.

[Cases are linked to] a Silver Lake Fire Department event Saturday night in the Town of Wawayanda showed up in doctors’ offices the next day with symptoms that were likely caused by food poisoning, say Orange County Health Department officials.
The county, the New York State Department of Health, and the Silver Lake Fire Department are conducting a joint investigation to discover the cause of the ailments, according to Deputy Health Commissioner Chris Dunleavy.
About 120 people attended the event.

The nasty bugs that cause foodborne illness don’t distinguish between commercial and charitable food operations.


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About Ben Chapman

Dr. Ben Chapman is a 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.