Roughly 55 people suffered from food poisoning in Salt Lake City last weekend.
An epidemiologist with the Salt Lake County health department stated that symptoms of the food poisoning included severe stomach pains and nausea/vomiting.
Those affected by the poisoning were staying at the Road Home homeless shelter, but food was not served there. The homeless that stay at the shelter overnight eat nearby in kitchens and dining halls.
According to ABCNews one of those places is St. Vincent de Paul Dining.
Celeste Eggert, development director of the shelter, said, “When our crews arrived, they started evaluating some people down here at the shelter, started noticing that a lot of them were suffering from symptoms similar to food poisoning.”
Eggert did not close down the shelter to those in need.
Although officials are unsure of what kind of food caused the poisoning, tests were done to figure out what bacteria was at fault. The tests indicated that the culprit was staphylococcus bacteria (staph).
Staph bacteria is often found on the skin. Healthy people can walk around without ever knowing they carry it, especially the common form found at the shelter. The antibiotic-resistant version was not found to be a part of the poisoning.
In cases like this, staph bacteria is transferred from bare hands to food during the preparation. That food is then not heated nor cooled properly.
One bus and ten ambulances needed to be used to transport people from the shelter to the hospital. All the food poisoning victims were out by Monday and none were reported to be in critical condition.
The health department began an investigation into the dining hall and reported only one violation: the water used for washing hands didn’t reach the proper temperature.
Staff cooperated with the health department, but no legal action will be taken since the food poisoning seems to be an isolated incident.
Staph infections are very common causes of food poisoning and it’s important that you know how to protect yourself.
The Mayo Clinic states that you can lower your risk of developing a staph infection by following some simple steps.
Always wash your hands, especially before eating or preparing food for yourself or others. If you do not have access to a sink, use hand sanitizer. Keep your wounds covered with sterile, dry bandages. Always practice good hygiene after handling personal items and avoid sharing things like razors and athletic equipment. Finally, when you wash clothing/bedding, make sure to use hot water since the bacteria can survive on cloth.
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