Albert Park gastrointestinal outbreak: Illness that struck more than 100 wedding reception and conference center guests finally revealed
The type of contagion that left more than 100 attendees at Melbourne’s The Park reception center violently ill has been identified by the health department.
At least 30 guests at a wedding on September 13 as well as at least 70 other medical professionals attending a conference on September 16 were struck down by the mysterious illness that struck Albert Park.
The department said Friday that patient testing confirmed the outbreak was likely caused by norovirus, a common but highly contagious form of gastro.
Norovirus can be transmitted primarily through contact with an infected person, but also through contaminated food, liquids, and even contaminated surfaces or objects.
Symptoms include acute vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, muscle pain and mild fever.
Investigations into the origin of the epidemic continue.
At least 100 people from two separate events suffered food poisoning after visiting the wedding venue, The Park, in Melbourne (pictured)
Park manager Bahaa Harb said no issues related to health and safety practices were found during a “routine” inspection on September 15.
“We have conducted a deep clean as a precaution and have received council approval to continue operations,” Harb said in a statement.
The two receptions had different menus although they shared two common dishes.
Both had pan fried potato gnocchi as a starter option and roasted chicken breast with smashed potato, leek and tarragon jus as a main course option.
Gary Kennedy, food scientist and owner of one of Australia’s leading independent food safety consultancy companies, Correct Training Systems, said if norovirus was present in food, chicken would likely be the culprit.
But he said he also thinks the outbreak may not be caused by food at all.
“We think it has nothing to do with food,” he said.
Melbourne’s Albert Park has been rehabilitated by health inspectors and allowed to continue operating (photo)
Mr Kennedy argued that cases of food poisoning like this can sometimes come from unsuspected food items, not always from notorious items like meat.
“Another possibility is that people automatically think it might be the meat, but that might not be the case at all – it might be the salad, the dressing or the wedding cake, for example,” she said. he declared.
“Since only 30 people out of the 300 guests (at the wedding) got sick, if I were to investigate, I would look at what these people ate to be the cause.”
“It makes sense that it was an ingredient or a small thing because of the small number of people who have had food poisoning.”
“One of the staff members may be sick and asymptomatic, carrying a foodborne illness, and the other staff members do not realize it.”
Some are wondering why the venue wasn’t temporarily closed, but according to the Victorian Department of Health, unless a breach of food safety legislation is found, a business can continue to operate.
WHAT IS NOROVIRUS?
Norovirus is the most common cause of gastroenteritis or food poisoning.
It can be transmitted through contaminated food, directly from person to person, but also via surfaces and objects or even through the air.
Symptoms appear about 12 to 48 hours after exposure and last about three days.
They include vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, muscle pain and mild fever.
A 3D rendering of norovirus particles, the most common cause of gastro
Serious complications are very rare but can be fatal.
Risk groups include the very young or elderly, the immunocompromised, or those in developing countries.
Treatment includes drinking fluids to prevent dehydration or intravenous fluids in severe cases.
Prevention includes proper cleaning and disinfection of food preparation areas, wearing safety equipment when cleaning up vomit or diarrhea, and regular hand washing.