More than two dozen people were treated in area hospitals after what appears to be a mass foodpoisoning event at the Zappos plant in Shepherdsville, Kentucky. After the ambulances left the scene, Bullitt County health officials arrived to investigate, and are trying to figure out whether the outbreak was caused by contaminated food–and if so, which particular food it was. Twenty-six people were rushed to hospitals suffering from nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, and 29 others were treated at the warehouse.
“It’s a possibility by the symptoms that it’s from the food,” said Bullitt County Health Director Dr. Swannie Jett. “It could have been something that was introduced by bad hand-washing. It’s hard to tell. It could have been a sick worker.” A local catering company provides daily meals to Zappos employees; approximately 2000 meals a day.
Health officials are now embarking on a series of interviews with ill individuals, particularly those who have been hospitalized, as well as the catering company, in an effort to find out what went wrong. It appears that the incubation period–the time that must pass between ingestion of the disease causing bacteria or virus and the onset of symptoms–was very short (i.e. it occurred while everybody was still at work). This would be consistent with infection by several different organisms, including norovirus and staphylococcus aureus. Staphylococcus Aureus, due to its very short incubation period and highly contagious propensities, is always high on the list of mass foodpoisoning events that happen as quickly as the Zappos outbreak.
Only time, with a little help from the Bullitt County health department, will tell.