Health officials in northern California are investigating the deaths of three people who became ill after eating Thanksgiving dinner at an American Legion Center.
Five others were hospitalized after the dinner at the Antioch American Legion Hall, which was rented out by a local church who put on the event. While the source of the illness is not yet known, doctors believe the outbreak could have been caused by food poisoning. It’s believed all 8 people who got sick lived at the same assisted living facility (ALF).
One man who was at the hall on Thanksgiving Day told KTVU the sick people were seniors from a local senior center, but the station couldn’t confirm that.
Sutter Delta Medical Center confirmed with local media, that last Friday and Saturday eight people were brought to their facility with “probable food-borne symptoms.” Hospital officials said they’ve also been in touch with the Centers for Disease Control.
Autopsies were being conducted this week in Contra Costa County, on the three who died, to determine exact cause of death.
According to Dr. Marilyn Underwood, the environmental health director for Contra Costa Health Services, the church served over 800 people that day, including residents from area ALF’s.
While officials are not releasing the name of the ALF where the three deceased patients lived –due to privacy concerns–they did say that other residents and staff members from the same facility were at the dinner, but did not get sick.
The Golden Hills Community Church, which has held the event for several years, prepared a traditional Thanksgiving dinner of turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans, bread and pies.
Underwood said volunteers prepared the three main side dishes at a commercial-grade facility and the rest of the meal, including the turkey, was donated by ‘other food facilities’.
While officials are still trying to determine the exact cause of the outbreak, they don’t believe there is “any risk to the general public.”
The following is the full statement released by the Golden Hills Community Church regarding the incident:
We recently were informed that several people from the same care facility in Antioch, who were at our Antioch Thanksgiving Dinner, became sick and it is reported that 3 of them have died. County Health officials have informed us that the source of the illness is not known and could have come from any of a number of sources. Our dinner in Antioch is only one of a number of possibilities that County Health is investigating. We are fully cooperating with health officials and are praying fervently for the families who lost loved ones and for others who are sick. We will try to post updates from County Health as we are made aware.
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