Louisiana Hospital Food Poisoning Cases Linked to Chicken Salad

Investigators say that chicken salad contaminated with norovirus is the most likely source for a hospital food poisoning outbreak that has killed three and sickened 44 in total at Central State Hospital in Louisiana. 

The Louisiana hospital food poisoning cases were first noticed when patients began showing signs of gastrointestinal distress on Friday morning. Between late Friday night and early Saturday morning a 41-year-old man, a 52-year-old man and a 43-year-old woman died due to food poisoning complications at the mental health hospital; which is located in Pineville, between Shreveport and Baton Rouge.

In all, 40 patients and 4 staff members have fallen ill. Fifteen of those victims, including all four sick staff members, were taken to Huey P. Long Medical Center in Pineville for treatment. At least two remained hospitalized through Saturday.

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All of the patients who contracted food poisoning had eaten chicken salad on Thursday night. State health department officials said that there could have been something wrong with the chicken, lettuce or mayonnaise. Some officials have said that the chief suspect is norovirus, which can cause gastroenteritis, but that has not been confirmed. Autopsies to be performed on the three deceased patients could provide investigators with more information.

Symptoms of gastroenteritis from norovirus in humans can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramping and sometimes low-grade fevers, chills, headaches, muscle aches and tiredness. The symptoms hit suddenly, and last for about several days. Death is uncommon.

Norovirus is extremely contagious, and is found in the stool and vomit of infected people. It is most often spread through unsanitary food preparation.

In March, Louisiana and Mississippi were the sites of another norovirus outbreak due to contaminated raw oysters, which led to an oyster recall. At least 11 people fell ill at a conference in Jackson County, Mississippi, after eating the oysters, which were harvested near Port Sulphur, Louisiana.


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