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Chorizo Possible Source of Las Vegas’s Firefly Salmonella Outbreak

Illness count jumps to 294

Epidemiologists think they have found the source of a Salmonella outbreak linked to Las Vegas’s Firefly restaurant that is now known to have sickened at least 294 people – almost 100 more illnesses than health officials previously reported.

The Southern Nevada Health District announced Wednesday that the outbreak strain of Salmonella had been found in a sample of cooked chorizo collected from the tapas-style restaurant.

It is unclear how the chorizo became contaminated, but health officials say the meat likely came into contact with the bacteria at the restaurant, not before it arrived.

Nevertheless, “Trace-back efforts have been redirected at the chorizo products due to a small possibility that raw chorizo was contaminated prior to arriving at Firefly,” said SNHD in its third interim outbreak report, issued Wednesday.

According to the health department, the bacteria sickened 290 patrons of the restaurant and 4 workers. Of these cases, 73 have been confirmed part of the outbreak by DNA testing. The 221 others are considered probable.

The first reported illnesses began on April 22, and the last victim fell ill May 1. All identified victims reported dining at the restaurant between April 21 and April 26.

SNHD notes that the case count could change as more illnesses are reported or some are determined not to be connected to Firefly.

Health officials submitted the DNA fingerprint of the outbreak strain of Salmonella serotype I:4,5,12:i:- to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which said no other Salmonella cases in the country match those connected to Firefly at this time.

John Simmons, Firefly’s head chef, expressed his commitment to learning from this outbreak to avoid another such incident in the future.

“While we are anxious to have the final report and a better idea of what may have happened, for me, it was never about the source – it was about making sure I did everything in my power to prevent this from happening again,” said Simmons in a statement Wednesday.

“We’ve hired a food safety consultant with over 30 years of experience to double and triple check our methods and we’ll operate in the mode of continuous improvement, constantly upgrading our practices with new technology, new methods, and additional training.” 

© Food Safety News
  • johnmunsell

    Have you ever read the ingredients label on chorizo at retail grocery stores? Some chorizo is actually a quality meat product, but some traditional chorizos are a mixture of glands and lymph nodes. After reading one label, I was surprised that the product was released for human consumption. Will gross you out!
    Within the meat industry, researchers in the last two years have been stating that lymph nodes carry a high incidence of Salmonella, leading to the need for interventions to somehow remove or sanitize lymph nodes. So, connecting the dots, if the Chorizo used at the Firefly restaurant was the type which contains glands and lymph nodes, we have a head start on a Traceback to determine the source of the Salmonella.
    John Munsell