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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

What’s up at Zappos? Bacillus Cereus Sickens 58

Zappos-Customer-Service.jpgThe Bullitt County Health Department updated its investigation into the event which sickened employees at the Zappos warehouse in Shepherdsville on December 5, 2011.

A total of 58 employees who worked the same shift became ill with a gastrointestinal illness early on Monday morning. At least twenty-nine sought medical attention—none were hospitalized. In most affected employees, the illness has been self-limited and not serious.

With the full cooperation of Zappos and the contracted caterer, Materson’s, the health department has completed an investigation into the matter. The investigation has included interviewing both sick and well employees who worked that shift and assessing the food service at the facility. In addition, laboratory testing of clinical specimens was completed at Public Health’s Division of Laboratory Services in Frankfort.

Preliminary data indicate a likely foodborne illness as the cause of the outbreak. Public Health’s Division of Laboratory Services identified bacillus cereus from clinical specimens. Bullitt County Health Department was not able to identify the specific food ingested that caused the foodborne illness due to the lack of food samples available. Suggestions for improvements made by the Bullitt County Health Department and Louisville Metro Public Health and Wellness have been well received by the company and its vendor.

The symptoms of B. cereus diarrheal type food poisoning mimic those of Clostridium perfringens food poisoning. The onset of watery diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and pain occurs 6-15 hours after consumption of contaminated food. Nausea may accompany diarrhea, but vomiting (emesis) rarely occurs. Symptoms persist for 24 hours in most instances.