According to the New York Department of Health, an outbreak of food poisoning following a July 31 catered wedding reception was caused by Staphylococcus aureus. Approximately 35 people were sickened after the reception at Arrowhead Lodge at Oneida Shores Park, which is owned by Onandaga County. Nine went to local hospital emergency rooms. Health department officials told local media that samples from those sickened tested in the laboratory were positive for S. aureus enterotoxin infection, a type of food poisoning. Food items can be contaminated with S. aureus bacteria by food service workers who handle food without washing their hands. The toxins produced by staph bacteria are also found in unpasteurized milk and cheese and cannot be destroyed by cooking. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that anyone can develop a staph infection, although certain groups of people are at greater risk, including people with chronic conditions such as diabetes, cancer, vascular disease, eczema, and lung disease. In a healthcare setting, CDC notes that the risk of more serious staph infection is higher because patients often have weakened immune systems or have undergone procedures such as surgery or have intravenous catheters. Previous coverage follows: About 35 people were sickened after a wedding reception Friday night in Brewerton, NY, which is about 15 miles north of Syracuse. Nine of the 35 were reportedly taken via ambulance to local hospitals, but all have apparently been released. The reception was being held at Arrowhead Lodge at Oneida Shores Park, where people can rent the facility from Onondaga County and arrange to bring in their own food. Ann Rooney, Onondaga County deputy county executive, told a Syracuse news outlet that county and state health department officials were investigating the situation and that it had not yet been confirmed whether food was the source of the problem. Rooney said that ambulances had taken nine people to emergency rooms at Crouse, St. Joseph’s and Upstate University hospitals and at Cortland Regional Medical Center. Two people were kept overnight, and everyone has now been treated and released, she added. According to one hospital spokesman, the symptoms included diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and cramping. County health department staff had interviewed 70 of 100 people who attended the event by Saturday afternoon, and half of them reported getting sick at the reception or afterwards, Rooney noted. She would not identify the food vendor at the wedding reception because the cause was still unknown.
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