180 people reported ill from Chincoteague Chili Cook-off, investigation ongoing

ACCOMACK COUNTY, Va. - The Accomack County Health Department and the Foodborne Disease Epidemiology Team from the Virginia Department of Health are continuing to investigate a Salmonella outbreak following the Chincoteague Chili Chowder Cook-off held on Saturday, September 30.

The Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services in Richmond, reportedly first identified salmonella javiana in human specimens, that were submitted by health care providers and health officials from event attendees, who reported gastrointestinal illness.

Now, D.C.L.S. has reportedly identified salmonella javiana in a sample of Crab Shack Clam Chowder that was obtained by an attendee served during the event, which is consistent with exposure results of the online attendee survey. About 500 survey responses, from both sick and non-ill attendees, were recorded in 18 days.

Accomack County health officials are addressing issues that may have contributed to the outbreak by talking with event sponsors and vendors. The laboratory analysis continues, as does analysis of the survey results. A final report will be drafted locally within 30 days and be available then to interested people.

Health officials will also reportedly continue to collect reports from Virginia and as many as nine other states where event attendees live, but the online attendee survey tool has been closed.

The following information is provisional and can change: The Accomack County Health Department has received 180 reports of illness to date. About 50% of those reported ill sought medical care, with 20% receiving Emergency Room care and 10% having been hospitalized for one or more nights. No deaths have been reported with the outbreak.

Health officials are acknowledging the event sponsor, the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company and its event coordinator, as well as all of the food vendors who participated in the event, for their cooperation and help in the investigation.

Moreover, local health care partners from Eastern Shore Rural Health and Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital, regional health care partners at Peninsula Regional Medical Center, Your Docs In of Pocomoke, Atlantic General Hospital, Worcester County Health Department, Wicomico County Health Department, Maryland State Laboratory and many others from other states have reportedly helped greatly in the investigation and specimen collection.

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