New questions surround e-coli & salmonella investigation in Decatur

DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) – Questions still surround an investigation into e-coli and salmonella that sickened 19 people at a luncheon May 30.  One person died a week after eating at the luncheon.

Health officials are moving quickly with their investigations, but may be about to hit a brick wall.   You see, the doctors’ window of opportunity has closed.

Testers with the Alabama Department of Public Health do not expect any information to allow them to link an e-coli and salmonella outbreak to a specific source.  The state’s epidemiologist explained the reason is a delay from the luncheon’s sponsor, to report illnesses.

Health officials believe the delay was more than a week after nearly 100 people ate inside a Decatur church.  A supervisor with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System in Morgan County confirmed his agency sponsored the luncheon for the Senior Aging Initiative.

However, the supervisor did not accept responsibility for providing the food.  He insists another office for the Cooperative at Alabama A&M University arranged the food.

Health officials told WHNT News 19 no food is available for testing and clinical specimens obtained from people at the time of their illness are limited.

Virginia Caples with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System at Alabama A&M University sent this statement to WHNT News 19 late Monday afternoon:

“The Urban Affairs and New Nontraditional Program Unit of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System (UANNP-ACES) under its Successful Aging Initiate (SAI) was the sponsor of a SAI Conference held in Morgan County on May 30, 2014. As is customary, meals were served during the conference with strict adherence to all procedures and regulations for health and safety.  Over 300 persons attended the conference and were served meals.  We have been made aware of two complaints that were filed with the Health Department alleging food poisoning emanating from the event.  We have been in contact with the Decatur Health Department and are cooperating with them in the further investigation of this matter. “

Meanwhile, the family of Clarence Hampton maintains their loved one died of a foodborne illness.    Hampton attended the luncheon on May 30 and started feeling sick afterward, so he went to a hospital.  Eight days later, he died.

Hampton’s family says they are talking to an attorney.

3 comments

  • nuclear mike

    If Alabama A&M is involved then there will be no one to take the blame for this food poisoning.

  • RSVR

    “…meals were served during the conference with strict adherence to all procedures and regulations for health and safety.” Yep, that’s why 1/3 of the folks there got sick. Wait, destroy the evidence, and play dumb; sounds like their MO.

  • jnfm

    as a family member of the person deceased i am very upset with this sentence phrase, “Health officials are moving quickly with their investigations,…” i KNOW the health department was notified with enough time for them to investigate if they had taken the initiative to do so. i know this because i personally spoke to field supervisor for that region of alabama within 7 days of my cousin dying, which is the legal spectrum of notification, & know my father went to the local health department in person to speak with them a few days before i called. so they knew within 4 days. the fact that they WAITED to investigate it until well into the week after i called them is the reason there is no longer any evidence. the only reason this information is even public right now, that people know there is a potential threat out there is because MY family took the initiative to inform people. it was also my family that connected the dots of realizing that there were already almost 20 people who had been to hospitals in various counties with symptoms of food poisoning by the time the health department got a move on it. quickly is obviously a subjective term…

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