Ilene Risk, an epidemiologist at the Salt Lake County health department spoke during a news conference Monday, that 55 men, women and children showed symptoms that include vomiting and severe stomach pains.
A bacteria generally found on the skin, which is transmitted to food, during preparation by use of the bare hands, that is not heated or cooled properly, was the culprit behind the 55 people getting sick at the Salt Lake City shelter for the homeless, the Salt Lake County Health Department said.
The dining hall staff cooperated with the investigation as the suspected food poisoning seems to be an isolated incident, the department said. The shelter is divided into two divisions, one for single women and men and another for families.
Those who were sick have been staying at the shelter, but over the weekend, the facility didn’t serve any meals, Celeste Eggert, development director of the shelter said.
To transport people to the hospital, 10 ambulances and a bus were used. While, another seven victims from the shelter made it on their own to the hospital and only one was released on Monday, FOX 13 reported.
Luckily, none of the victims were in critical condition.
The shelter provides housing only and an occasional volunteer group arrives to serve food, but Saturday or Sunday, no meals were served.
A number of the shelter’s guests eat at nearby kitchens and facilities, according to Eggert. “When our crews arrived, they started evaluating some people down here at the shelter, started noticing that a lot of them were suffering from symptoms similar to food poisoning.”