A slaughterhouse shut down by federal public health officials last year after producing pork linked to an outbreak that caused almost 200 cases of Salmonella is the prime suspect in an ongoing outbreak of the infection, Public Health – Seattle King County reported Tuesday.
Officials Confirm 11 Cases in Ongoing Salmonella Outbreak Tied to Seattle Good Vibe Tribe Luau
Victims of the current outbreak all attended a luau held on July 3rd at Golden Gardens Park in Seattle. The Good Vibe Tribe Luau offered a number of different foods, and officials have not confirmed the source of the outbreak. However, strong circumstantial evidence points to pork supplied by Kapowsin Meats, including laboratory evidence collected by Public Health – Seattle King County (Public Health).
Public Health staff stated that they “know that everyone who got sick after the luau had eaten pork that was served there.” Eleven people – ten from King County and one from Pierce County – contracted the infection.
The department confirmed that the genetic fingerprint of the Salmonella bacteria in the current outbreak matches the genetic fingerprint of the Salmonella outbreak cases from last summer. The strain of Salmonella involved in both outbreaks is known as “Salmonella I, 4, 5, 12 :i:-“. Six people in the current outbreak have tested positive for the strain of bacteria, while five additional attendees developed symptoms consistent with Salmonella but did not get tested.
Officials say that investigation of the food source and preparation procedures for all food items served at the luau is ongoing. Efforts to pin down the source include surveying every person who attended the luau, including people who did not get sick. According to Public Health, “surveys and information are coming in on an ongoing basis,” and updates will be provided each afternoon as information becomes available.
“At this point, any person who is reported with Salmonella will be asked about attendance at the event and foods consumed there,” Public Health stated in an outbreak update.
Pierce County Event Potentially Linked To Outbreak; One Person Hospitalized with Salmonella
According to Dr. Scott Lindquist, a Washington state epidemiologist, some individuals who attended a private event in Pierce County also contracted the infection. Again, all people who fell ill ate whole pork roast from Kapowsin Meats, located in the same county as the event.
Eddie Jeffers, a spokesman for the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, stated that a Pierce County woman in her 60s was hospitalized with Salmonella. The illness and hospitalization came after she ate whole pork roast at a campground barbecue on July 2nd, one day before the Good Vibe Tribe Luau.
The Return of Kapowsin Meats Salmonella: An Outbreak Sequel?
All individuals in the outbreak who were tested for bacteria tested positive for a specific type of Salmonella – Salmonella I, 4, 5, 12 :i: – and ate pork from Kapowsin Meats. Last summer, the same company had to shut down its slaughterhouse after testing linked it to an outbreak of the exact same type of Salmonella.
Almost 200 people fell ill as a result of eating Kapowsin Meats’ pork in last summers’ outbreak. Of the 192 people who contracted the sickness, 30 experienced illnesses so severe that they required hospitalization. According to Lindquist, the outbreak spanned five states: Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California and Alaska.
Even more troubling, officials say, is the fact that the bacteria proved resistant to multiple antibiotics. Antibiotic-resistant Salmonella makes treating infections more difficult, and can lead to more severe illnesses.
The Kapowsin Meats plant remained open on Tuesday; however, officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said they were “monitoring the outbreak closely.”
For its part, Public Health – Seattle & King County stated that they are “very concerned that this outbreak could be related to the Kapowsin Meats outbreak from last year and have laboratory evidence suggesting a link.” The department emphasized that they are “making every effort to work swiftly with out state and federal partners including the regulatory agencies involved to confirm the source and stop the outbreak quickly so that many fewer people are affected.”
If you or a family member became ill with a Salmonella infection after consuming food and you would like to explore pursuing a legal claim, contact an experienced food poisoning attorney at Ron Simon & Associates for a free case evaluation.