DPHSS: Progress, But No Results on Food Poisoning Outbreak, Yet


Guam – The Director of the Department of Public Health & Social Services (DPHSS) issued a release today [Monday] on the progress of their on-going investigation into the food poisoning outbreak at 5 Southern Schools 2 weeks ago.

According to the DPHSS release:

o Within an hour of the notification of the outbreak from the Guam Department of Education (GDOE), teams of investigators from the Division of Environmental Health, DPHSS, were sent to all five schools.

o Initial symptoms of vomiting and nausea experienced by the ill students hinted to a possible “food-borne intoxication,” which is associated with a short incubation period, and thus, the breakfast served that morning became the focus of the investigation.

o Numerous food samples and clinical specimens were collected from the five schools.  Food samples from the previous day were also collected to rule out the possibility of being the cause of the outbreak.

o Southern High School cafeteria, operated by King’s Restaurant LLC, where the breakfast was prepared on the day of the outbreak, was inspected and its food-handlers were interviewed.

o According to the data from GDOE, a total of 292 individuals (289 students and 3 school personnel) complained of illness on the day of the outbreak.

o Based on the list provided by King’s Restaurant LLC, a total of 622 children were served breakfast on May 12, 2011 at the five schools.

o Nearly 50 food samples and clinical specimens were collected.

o Outbreak investigation questionnaire forms were provided to GDOE for distribution to all students and personnel who consumed the school cafeteria breakfast on the day of the outbreak, whether they became ill or not.

Food samples were sent to the Hawaii Department of Health to confirm the results of the screening analysis conducted by the Civil Support Team of the Guam Army National Guard. 

The results of the confirmatory test are expected soon; however, additional tests may be necessary, which may further lengthen the process.

To date, DPHSS has received over 500 questionnaires and more are expected.  The preliminary information indicates that of those who became ill, 84% experienced vomiting, 41% had abdominal cramping, 33% felt nausea, and nearly 19% were afflicted with diarrhea.

DPHSS will attempt to provide updates as more information evolves from this investigation.  GDOE and King’s Restaurant LLC have been cooperating with this Department in the investigation.  The department acknowledges the public’s interest in this outbreak and their desire for immediate answers; however, food-borne illness investigations, especially of this magnitude, can be complex and require considerable time and effort to complete.