Clostridium Perfringens Food Poisoning Outbreak Linked to “Walking Tacos”

Health officials believe that tacos fed to people at a basketball game in South Dakota may have sparked a food poisoning outbreak that has sickened at least 50 people. 

The Clostridium perfringens outbreak hit attendees of a high school basketball game in Pierre, South Dakota last week.

A survey of those who fell ill found that 75% of them at tacos, which were the likely source of the outbreak, according to a press release issued by the South Dakota Department of Health.

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The tacos were sold by a school fundraising group at Riggs High School. Unlike traditional tacos, these were what are known as “walking tacos,” where ground beef, cheese and salsa are poured into a bag of corn chips so that it can be eaten while being carried around.

Clostridium perfringens, or C. perfringens, is a bacteria that is typically found on raw beef and poultry. It can cause gastrointestinal illness that includes diarrhea and cramps. C. perfringens food poisoning typically lasts less than 24 hours.

Outbreaks involving C. perfringens are almost always caused by a failure to cook meat well enough to kill the bacteria, particularly in stews, meat pies, gravies and similar loose meat dishes made from beef, chicken or turkey.

Most illnesses related to this bacteria are mild and short-lived, however in some cases strains of C. perfringens can cause necrotic enteritis, which can cause necrosis of the intestines and become septic. Known as Pig-bel syndrome, it is often deadly.

None of the ingredients from the tacos have been tested by health officials. The source of the ground beef used in the tacos has not been publicly identified.


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