Supermercado Los Corrales Salmonella Outbreak Lawsuits - Wisconsin (2015)

In May 2015 public health officials in Wisconsin investigated an outbreak of Salmonella I 4,[5],12:1:- that occurred among customers of the Supermercado Los Corrales (SLC) located in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Ill persons had purchased food at the store between May 8 and May 11.  The outbreak was detected during a routine interview with a patient diagnosed with Salmonella following a Mother’s Day brunch with extended family members.  Several of the guests were ill with gastrointestinal symptoms.  The family knew of other persons who did not attend their gathering but were also ill.  All ill persons had eaten food prepared at SLC.   

Kenosha County Health Department (KCHD) staff worked collaboratively with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services Division of Public Health (DPH) to develop an outbreak specific questionnaire.  Area schools, health care providers and health care facilities were notified that a foodborne outbreak was underway. A “confirmed” case was defined as a person with laboratory confirmation of Salmonella serotype I 4,[5],12:1:- who had exposure to prepared foods from Supermercado Los Corrales during May 8-11, 2015.  A “probable” case was defined as a person who had a diarrheal illness with exposure to prepared foods from Supermercado Los Corrales during May 8-11, 2015.



On May 29, 2015 KCHD and DPH reported 69 outbreak associated cases.  Thirty three were laboratory confirmed with Salmonella serotype I 4,[5],12:1:-. Pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) analysis showed that patients were infected with one of two closely related genetic strains designated by PulseNet as JPXX01.4356 and JPXX01.4045. There were 33 patients classified as “probable” cases.  There were 3 possible secondary cases.  The first date of purchase was May 7.  Most meals were purchased on May 9 or May 10.  Dates of onset of illness ranged from May 8, 2015 to May 19, 2015.  There were 7 hospitalizations and no deaths.     

Kenosha County environmental health specialist, Ryan Lesnjak, conducted the first on-site inspection at SLC on May 14. He interviewed the owner and gathered information about employees and food processes.  None of the food prepared earlier in the week was available for testing.  The next day Mr. Lesnjak and Brad Wozniak interviewed employees and left stool kits which were later collected from three employees. One of the three employees was laboratory confirmed with Salmonella I 4,[5], 12:1:-.   

On May 18 the food preparation area and raw meat operations at SLC were closed per order of Kenosha County. Environmental specialists worked with the owner of the SLC and food prep employees to create a “food flow” sheet for carnitas which was the food item implicated as the source of illness.   

Based on reports of employee start time and first retail sale of carnitas, investigators doubted there enough time to allow for adequate reheating of the carnitas. This was reported as a proliferation/amplication factor that contributed to the outbreak.     

None of the food prepared between May 7-11 was available for testing.  Investigators collected samples of carnitas and salsa prepared on May 18.  Samples were submitted to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (WI DATCP) for testing.  None of the samples was positive for Salmonella.  Samples of leftover carnitas collected from two persons who were laboratory confirmed with Salmonella I 4,[45],12:1:- were positive for Salmonella I 4,[5],12:1:- at the WI DATCP laboratory.  The Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene conducted PFGE analysis on these food isolates and determined they were a genetic match to a strain isolated in patients.     

On May 22 raw meat operations at SLC were allowed to reopen.  On June 4 no new cases has been reported and the meat preparation area was reopened. 

Marler Clark represented 48 individuals affected by the outbreak, achieving settlements covering medical expenses, wage loss, and pain and suffering.