Well being officers met with meals poisoning after vacation celebration, »Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – Even the people who are tasked with protecting our health are not immune to the mood of the germs.

That news was brought home at the Ministry of Health last week when many attendees appeared to be suffering from food poisoning at a catered lunch.

DOH Secretary Lynn Gallagher at an event in Albuquerque in August. (MAGAZINE FILE)

This event, held here at the division’s headquarters in the Runnels building, resulted in “reports of a number of employees suffering from mild gastrointestinal disease, according to a message sent to staff by Health Secretary Lynn Gallagher on Monday are”.

Paul Rhien, director of communications at DOH, said it was estimated that more than 200 department employees attended lunch last Wednesday, December 14, and about 71 reported gastrointestinal symptoms that developed within 24 to 48 hours.

Gallagher told workers that an internal epidemiological investigation – after all, the people headquartered there who investigate disease outbreaks across the state – could not pinpoint the food associated with the disease and suggested that food was cross-contaminated during lunch. The bacterial perpetrator’s laboratory results are pending, but Gallagher’s message said B. cereus and C. perfringens were suspects based on symptoms, incubation period, and duration of the disease.

The Ministry of Health has not identified the caterer or how many people have been reported sick from work due to the illness.

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Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea lasting around 24 hours are symptoms of B. cereus, while diarrhea and cramping over 24 hours are most common in C. perfringens, according to the Foodsafety.gov website.

“We will work to take appropriate steps to discuss food handling procedures with the caterer and to avoid such problems in the future,” wrote Gallagher.

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