Shelby Twp. Outbreak Not Food Poisoning

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The food poisoning scare at Club Monte Carlo in Shelby Township is now believed to be the result of a norovirus transmission.

Macomb County Health Department investigated the illness spread that occurred the weekend of October 2 at the club’s events, and found no evidence of food contamination. 

Sherry LaBelle, the associate director of Environmental Health, described the process.

“To figure out what had happened, we needed to ask a number of important questions, such as:  Were any of the food handlers ill themselves?  Did people who got sick tend to consume certain food items which well people did not consume?  For those who did get sick, when was the onset of illness, what sorts of symptoms did they have and how long did they last?” LaBelle said.

In addition to a thorough investigation of the facility, the department took samples from the sick attendees.

Medical Director Keith Lokar explained that they “ identified people that were ill either before coming to the event, or became ill within less than an hour of being at the event.” 

After ruling out the possibility of food poisoning, the department concluded the illness resulted from person-to-person transmission of a norovirus, that Lokar describes as brief but intense. It is likely that the outbreak started with individuals who were already ill when they arrived at the banquet hall.

According to Health Department Director, Steven Gold, the club was very helpful throughout the process.

“The owner of Club Monte Carlo cooperated fully with our investigation in every way, including top-to-bottom cleaning and disinfecting of his entire establishment,” Gold said.

Gold emphasized that the scare could provide an important lesson to the public: becoming ill after eating at a restaurant does not necessarily mean that the facility or its food are the root cause.

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