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A major outbreak of food poisoning, which assumed the proportions of a community disaster by causing the acute illness of 244 people, presented the typical symptoms and clinical picture of a staphylococcal gastroenteritis.
The offending food was the baked ham from which positive cultures forStaphylococcus aureuswere obtained by two separate laboratories.
It is important to note that the baked ham presented no off-odors, tastes, or flavors. This is characteristic of staphylococcus-infected foods.
The baked ham was seeded withStaphylococcus aureus from the self-contaminated hands of the man who did the deboning. Laboratory cultures demonstratedStaphylococcus aureus in acne lesions on the man's face, in the the ham, and in scrapings taken from the table on which the hams were deboned.
The staphylococci organisms were given the necessary time and temperature range in which to grow and produce enterotoxin in the sliced ham during the period that the hams were held warm in the oven at 200° F. Additional growth and enterotoxin production occurred during the period that the hams were held without refrigeration on a 90° day at the picnic grounds.
KeywordsPublic Health Staphylococcus Acne Clinical Picture Refrigeration
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