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Rattlesnake Cakes Possible Cause of Salmonella

Health officials are investigating a Salmonella outbreak believed to be linked to The Fort restaurant in Morrison, Colorado.

Officials believe more than two dozen people who ate at the restaurant last month became ill after consuming undercooked eggs. So far there are eight confirmed cases of Salmonella and 20 listed as probable.

The Fort is designed like a fort from the 1800s and its cuisine reflects the period. One of the restaurant’s signature dishes is rattlesnake cakes, which are described on The Fort website as similar to a crab cake.

Between July 10 and July 16, more than two dozen people became ill at The Fort.  CBS 4 Denver reported that people quite possibly got sick from the eggs in the rattlesnake dish.

“Testing did show that the batter that was used in preparation of one of the foods did have eggs in it that did test positive for the same type Salmonella that the case had,” Mark Johnson, Jefferson County Health Executive Director, told CBS 4.

The Jefferson County Health Department tracked down about 90 people who dined at the restaurant and the dish was taken off the menu, however, the Health Department did not issue a public warning and the restaurant was not closed.

The restaurant issued a statement saying, “we are taking all recommendations from the Jefferson County Health Department to make our preparation of food as safe as possible.”

The test samples were sent to the Centers for Disease Control and prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is involved to see if there is a link to other outbreaks throughout the country.

Earlier this year, ABC News published a story about capsules of dry rattlesnake meat containing Salmonella.

John James, a microbial epidemiologist at Children’s Hospital in Denver, stated that the capsules of dried rattlesnake meat contained the life-threatening strain of bacteria, Salmonella arizonae.

James said, “Anecdotal evidence linking capsules of dried rattlesnake meat to Salmonella poisoning has been reported for years. For the first time, however, we’ve used DNA molecular testing to prove definitively that the Salmonella bacteria found in the dried meat was the cause of a life-threatening case of Salmonella blood poisoning in a patient treated at our hospital.”

Salmonella arizonae is commonly found in snakes and lizards.


The Fort released the following statement:

“Our deepest sympathy goes out to our customers who were affected by this illness. We hold the highest standards and consider each customer a guest in our home, The Fort. These were isolated confirmed cases of foodborne illness. The one food item suspected was immediately removed from our menu. We are working closely with the Jefferson County Health Department adhering to all recommendations to make our preparation of food as safe as possible. There are no other concerns.”

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