Health Department investigates illnesses linked to Mitchell-Pierre gamePIERRE — The South Dakota Department of Health is investigating a suspected food borne illness outbreak linked to a Tuesday evening boys’ basketball game in Pierre between Pierre and Mitchell.
By: Staff reports, The Daily Republic
PIERRE — The South Dakota Department of Health is investigating a suspected food borne illness outbreak linked to a Tuesday evening boys’ basketball game in Pierre between Pierre and Mitchell.
Approximately 50 people have been reported ill with a diarrhea illness, according to the Department of Health. The illness appears to be of short duration.
In coordination with the school, the department is working to collect food histories from individuals and will be testing stool samples to identify an organism. It has also been in contact with the Mitchell School District.
Mitchell Superintendent Joe Graves said he learned of the problem Thursday afternoon and is seeking input from the public to see if people grew ill after the game.
“We had a lot of people at the game,” Graves said.
Mitchell boys' basketball coach Gary Munsen has estimated there were 3,000 people at the game. The high interest was due to the successful seasons both teams are having and the game's postseason implications.
An electronic food borne illness questionnaire is being distributed today in the Pierre high school and middle school for staff and students. The questionnaire is intended to get a clear picture of how many people are ill, how severe the illness is and how long it lasts, the incubation period and the potential food source. Ill individuals who are not part of the school system are also encouraged to complete the questionnaire at the department’s website, doh.sd.gov.
No food from the event has been submitted for testing.
In 2011, South Dakota reported nearly 500 cases of food borne illness such as Salmonella, Campylobacter, and E. coli. There were also cases of another food borne illness, Norovirus, which is not reportable.
Food borne illness can be prevented with safe food-handling practices – thorough hand washing, cleaning of cutting boards and utensils, cooking food to safe internal temperatures (145 degrees Fahrenheit for whole meats, 160 degrees for ground meats, and 165 degrees for all poultry) and refrigerating perishable food at temperatures below 40 degrees.
Signs and symptoms of food borne illness can include mild or severe diarrhea, fever, vomiting and abdominal pain. Most people will recover on their own without medication or may require fluids to prevent dehydration.