‘Dead man’s tray’ Clostridium perfringens likely cause of Fargo jail outbreak

Three weeks after an apparent foodborne illness outbreak at the Cass County Jail, the North Dakota Department of Health determined what likely made about 110 inmates sick over a two-day stretch in mid-December.

fargo.margAlthough an official cause is still pending, State Epidemiologist Laura Cronquist says testing by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention points to Clostridium perfringens bacteria as the culprit, based on stool samples from several inmates.

Clostridium perfringens is commonly found on raw meat and poultry, according to the CDC, and infection can occur when foods are prepared in large quantities and kept warm for a long time before serving.

“It’s really common,” Cronquist said, adding, “It’s not really surprising that it’s an institution that this happened in.”

Last month’s outbreak was the second major outbreak at the Cass County Jail in four years. In the latest case, about 40 percent of the jail’s 282 inmates had symptoms including diarrhea and nausea. No inmates were hospitalized, and jail staff said the illness was short-lived.

Clostridium perfringens was also the likely cause of a larger illness outbreak at the jail in November 2011, when 90 percent of the 184 inmates inmates came down with diarrhea and vomiting. In that case, the organism was also found inside sick inmates, but couldn’t be confirmed in the most likely food source, the chili macaroni served that day.

The Cass County Jail freezes meal samples daily to save in the event of illness in a process referred to in the corrections industry as a “dead man’s tray.” Cronquist said she’s working with the CDC to determine which of those specific foods will be tested.

ND: Outbreak of illness at Cass jail sickens more than 100 inmates overnight

Fargo Public health and law enforcement officials are investigating an outbreak of illness that sickened more than 100 inmates at the Cass County Jail overnight Tuesday.

fargo1The first inmates started reporting mild symptoms like upset stomachs and diarrhea, said Cass County Sheriff’s Sgt. Tim Briggeman.

By 6 Tuesday morning, 110 of the jail’s 282 inmates had reported the same symptoms.

Jail staff treated all inmates on site, and none has reported their symptoms getting worse, Briggeman said.

The sheriff’s office has reported the outbreak to the North Dakota Department of Corrections, and is investigating the outbreak along with officials from Fargo Cass Public Health.

Fargo is a great movie; Panda Express is not an exceptional guest experience

True Detective was a great TV series about human frailty, redemption, and proving that Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson can act.

fargo14Fargo was a great movie, and I’ve heard the TV series isn’t so bad, picking up some award thingies, so that’s next on the watching time, especially now that Jon Stewart is leaving us (we’re the same age, I feel that close).

But would you eat in Fargo? If a Panda Express proclaims exceptional guest experiences?

In the most recent Fargo Cass Public Health environmental inspection report, Panda Express along 45th Street South was slapped three critical violations. Chicken was not stored at the proper temperature, there were sanitizing equipment issues, and fooddebris was sitting at the bottom of a hand sink which could cause cross contamination.

Corporatewouldn’t let our cameras inside, but said they’re thankful to work with inspectors and corrected all necessary actions on the spot. Here’s their full statement:

“At Panda Express, the health and safety of our food and guests are our top priorities. In addition to third party food safety inspections, Panda welcomes our regular county health inspections as of our commitment to delivering exceptional guest experiences. We are grateful for the opportunity to work directly with our inspectors to take corrective actions when necessary, on the spot.”