Wyoming Department of Health conducts interviews in food poisoning probe

2012-12-15T23:30:00Z Wyoming Department of Health conducts interviews in food poisoning probeBy KYLE ROERINK Casper Star-Tribune The Billings Gazette
December 15, 2012 11:30 pm  • 

The Wyoming Department of Health has interviewed 50 people as part of an investigation into the source of a foodborne virus outbreak in Casper this week.

As of this evening, the Casper-Natrona County Health Department had received 292 reports of foodborne illness related to the Golden Corral restaurant in east Casper, according to department Director Bob Harrington. Harrington cautioned that not all reports are likely to be related to the restaurant.

Some people may have contracted the disease somewhere else, he said. And given the litigious nature of society, some people may be trying to make a quick buck off of insurance claims, Harrington added.

The Wyoming Health Department's interview process consists of a four-page list of questions that help the agency determine whether the restaurant is to blame, according to agency spokeswoman Kim Deti.

Deti said the interview helps determine the time of the onset of illness, the date of the restaurant visit and the symptoms people experienced. Most of the 50 people who have been interviewed fit the case definition and went to Golden Corral, she said.

The case definition being used at this point by health officials includes diarrhea and/or vomiting lasting at least 12 hours, with a focus on the period following Dec. 1, Deti said.

“If you don’t fit the case definition, then you don’t fit the mix,” Harrington said. “For example, if you have stomach cramps but no diarrhea, then you don’t meet the case definition.”

State health officials don’t intend to interview every person who called to report an illness. Officials are focusing on employees and patrons who went to the emergency room.

Officials suspect norovirus. The Wyoming Department of Health collected stool samples and reviewed emergency room reports. Lab test results aren't expected until next week.

The restaurant reopened at 5 p.m. Friday after a voluntary 24-hour closure to clean and disinfect the facility.

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