According to a press release KCDH issued on June 10, 2015, the “pork carnitas purchased at Supermercado Los Corrales in Kenosha May 8-10, 2015 are the source of Salmonella that made as many as 70 people ill and required hospitalization of seven people.” In addition, it was announced that lab tests conducted by Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) and Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene had “confirmed that Salmonella with a matching DNA fingerprint was in samples of the product and in samples from those individuals who had became ill.”
The plaintiff Angela Alsterda’s fiancé purchased pork carnitas at the Los Corrales on May 10, 2015, in anticipation of a Mother’s Day brunch to occur with extended family at his parents’ home. The plaintiffs consumed the carnitas and other foods shortly after noon on Mother’s Day, as did a large number of extended family at the brunch.
The minor plaintiffs, Brendon Dunford and Nicholas Silva, also consumed the carnitas. Two-year old Nicholas was the first to fall ill, with symptoms beginning late on Sunday evening, May 10. He had large amounts of diarrhea over the course of the night, requiring many diaper changes. He soon developed vomiting as well. Then, in the early morning hours of Monday, May 11, he began to run a fever. He struggled with these symptoms throughout the day on May 11.
Although Brendon managed to go to school on May 11, he did not last the day, coming home feeling too sick. He did not eat dinner and went to bed early. Around 4:00 a.m. on Tuesday, May 12, he began to experience the same symptoms that his brother had been suffering. The diarrhea was immediately severe and incessant, and nausea and vomiting made it difficult to stand or walk. In fact, Brendon would spend most of the day Tuesday in the bathroom, sitting on the toilet with a bucket in front of him so that he would not soil his clothes or bed sheets.
As Brendon’s symptoms worsened, Nicholas continued to be ill. Ms. Alsterda took both boys to a walk-in clinic for medical help on May 11. Nicholas was seen and diagnosed with viral gastroenteritis. Ms. Alsterda was told that nothing could be done for Brendon, because the illness was a virus that would have to pass.
Back at home, both boys continued to suffer from severe symptoms. With the diarrhea and vomiting continuing, Nicholas became increasingly lethargic and strangely quiet. He would produce no words or sounds other than to grimace and scream in pain, which was very unusual for this ordinarily healthy and energetic toddler.
On Thursday, it appeared to Ms. Alsterda that Nicholas was only semi-conscious. He remained very quiet despite the ongoing, severe symptoms, and his eyes opened only partially, despite being awake. Brendon remained ill as well, with severe diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, cramps, and vomiting. And to make matters even worse, Ms. Alsterda now began to suffer from the same symptoms that had been plaguing her sons.
Increasingly concerned about her son’s lethargy, Ms. Alsterda rushed her son Nicholas back to the walk-in clinic for help. This time, he received two liters of intravenous fluids to treat severe dehydration. Additionally, blood and stool samples were taken for testing. He was discharged, feeling and looking slightly better as a result of the rehydration.
On Friday, May 15, his pediatrician evaluated Brendon. At this point, some of the symptoms had begun to improve. Despite this improvement, Brendon would continue to suffer from diarrhea and abdominal pains for at least another ten days.
Meanwhile, Ms. Alsterda’s illness became increasingly severe over the course of Thursday and Friday, May 14 and 15. Thursday night the diarrhea became so frequent that she could not chance leaving the bathroom, except to care for her ailing children. She continued to be ill over the weekend too, all while still struggling to care for her children.
The following week, Ms. Alsterda managed to go to work despite continuing to feel ill. So long as she did not eat during the day, and only drank water, the Imodium AD that she had been taking for days now seemed to prevent the need for repeated trips to the bathroom. She would eat something bland when she arrived home after work.
Ms. Alsterda continued to suffer from gastrointestinal discomfort and diarrhea through the end of May 2015. Her son, Nicholas, remained ill the longest, with gastrointestinal symptoms lasting until approximately June 4, 2015.
Ms. Alsterda has spoken with health officials from Kenosha County Health Department on multiple occasions since these illnesses began. She first heard from the health department just an hour or so after learning that the stool sample Nicholas had submitted at the walk-in clinic had tested positive for Salmonella. The conversations with health officials centered on the Mother’s Day meal of pork carnitas from Supermercado Los Corrales.
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