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Unidentified Source for Salmonella Outbreak in Las Vegas

Update Date: May 13, 2013 10:30 AM EDT

Two popular Las Vegas restaurants have been shut down after at least 200 people have fallen ill since dining there. Health officials from the Southern Nevada Health District reported that 196 people and four employees contracted food poisoning at Firefly, prompting the closing of the eatery with officials citing 44 health demerits. Dragonfly, which stands next to Firefly and shares the same kitchen facilities, was also shut down on April 26 after receiving 47 demerits. Demerits include using incorrect cooling practices, ignoring the threat of placing raw foods onto cooked foods, and storing and handling food without proper safety and cleanliness techniques. Despite these clear signs of mishandling food, officials have not been able to pinpoint the exact cause of the Salmonella outbreak.

Based on health tests, officials identified Salmonella serotype I:4, 5, 12, which is a variant of Salmonella Typhimurium, in 16 individuals. This variant was responsible for infecting 401 people in a 2007 outbreak. The 200 people who have been afflicted with this possible variant of Salmonella hailed from 20 states, which included Arizona, California, New York and Pennsylvania, and two countries, the United Kingdom and Canada. Firefly has announced that it does not plan on reopening the store at this particular location.

"Firefly has been a proud member of Southern Nevada for 10 years, and we are optimistic that the combination of moving to this new location, that has a kitchen as large as the entire original Firefly restaurant, and the recommended retraining on operations and procedures, will help us regain the confidence of the community," John Simmons, the owner of Firefly, sad.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Services (FSIS) are both currently studying the possible multiple effects of food handling, restaurant environment, and employee interactions on the safety of the end product.

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