According to the Southern Nevada Health District, as many as 89 people may have contracted salmonella at Firefly, a popular Las Vegas tapas restaurant.
The restaurant was shut down on April 26, following a health inspection that revealed violations including improperly stored food; employees handling food without gloves; and employees preparing food next to cleaning chemicals, according to KVVU-TV.
At a Thursday news conference, officials with the Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD) said at least a dozen people were hospitalized with gastrointestinal symptoms, according to KVVU-TV. The officials believe those patrons affected ate at the restaurant on Paradise Road between April 21 and 25. Three employees were also sickened. Stephanie Bethel, SNHD spokeswoman, said tests confirmed salmonella caused the illnesses.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says salmonella infection causes diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps, usually 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually runs its course within a week, but symptoms can become severe enough to require hospitalization. Salmonella infections are especially dangerous in children under five, older adults, and those with weakened immune systems, the CDC says.
SNHD officials said they were testing 10 menu items to see if any of those was the cause of the outbreak. Salmonella is commonly found in undercooked meat, but can come from other sources. The infection can be spread when restaurant employees don’t follow proper hygiene practices, KVVU-TV reports.
Firefly’s owner, John Simmons, told KVVU-TV, “People have gotten sick here, and we’re trying to get to the bottom of it and figure out what happened.” Records show Firefly received an “A” grade during last year’s inspection, but the April 26 inspection resulted in 44 demerits, which meant immediate closure. SNHD said two other Firefly locations also earned demerits, 30 demerits for the W. Sahara Avenue location and six for Firefly’s S. Eastern Avenue location.
No date was announced for the restaurant’s reopening, but officials said it could happen some time next week.