The Orange County Health Department is investigating the possibility that a number of Silver Lake Fire Department volunteer firefighters contracted food poisoning during a banquet they attended over the weekend.
About 120 people were at the catering hall where the meal was held on Saturday night and a number of them went to the doctor at the beginning of the week with symptoms of food poisoning, a senior county health department official told MidHudsonNews.com.
The investigation is continuing with no definitive conclusions yet. One possibility is norovirus whenever you epidemiologists see the rapid spread of mass illness at a social gathering. Then again firefighters are pretty tough, and an incident that makes many of them go to the hospital could be something potentially worse. Other possibilities: Salmonella, campylobacter, or shigella?
Any one of these bugs can cause severe acute gastrointestinal symptoms, or worse. Any of them can cause life-altering medical problems. Barb Pruitt is a case in point. Barb was infected by Salmonella typhimurium in an 2009 outbreak ultimately linked to lettuce from Salinas valley California. Barb’s illness very quickly became life-threatening because the bacteria caused the tissues in her gastrointestinal tract to die, leading to a perforation of her small intestine that allowed the bacteria to escape into her bloodstream. She ultimately had to be life-flighted to a major medical center, where she underwent emergency surgery to remove approximately four feet of her small intestine. She has spent over a month in the hospital, and has endured constant, severe gastrointesinal problems ever since as a result of her inability to properly digest foods due to the loss of her small intestine. Barb’s problems, including multiple days a week where she suffers 15-20 bouts of diarrhea, are permanent.