LUMBY - A luncheon attended by local dignitaries during Lumby Days is being probed by health officials after numerous guests reported getting sick.
At least two dozen of roughly 75 people who attended the June 11 luncheon became ill, according to Dr. Silvina Mema, a medical health officer with the Interior Health Authority. The health authority was notified of the outbreak by the Village of Lumby.
Among those who got sick are Vernon Mayor Akbal Mund and North Okanagan Regional District board chair Rick Fairbairn. Roughly eight to 10 members of the Lumby and District Volunteer Fire Department who attended the lunch also became ill.
“About 25 per cent of the fire department was sick, a few of the guys were really bad,” fire chief Tony Clayton says. “It was kind of funny because I thought I had the flu, and then one of my guys texted me and said ‘are you feeling sick today?’”
According to Mema, symptoms included vomiting, diarrhea and fever. She says there’s a good chance the disease is norovirus, a common gastrointestinal sickness that is quite contagious, but health officials will be conducting lab tests to find out for sure.
A team of six people from Interior Health are looking into the cause of the sickness and are asking anyone who attended the luncheon and took home leftovers to bring the food in for testing. People who went to the event are also being asked to fill out a questionnaire about what foods they ate.
“When we interview people and find a common exposure, we’ll know what food product is contaminated with a pathogen,” Mema says.
It’s believed that some food was prepared on site, while other products were purchased from a store.
“The risk for the general public is very low,” Mema says. “This was a point exposure, everyone who was exposed to it was at a confined event.”
That being said, the health authority is reminding anyone experiencing symptoms to stay home and wash their hands frequently to avoid spreading the disease.
The outbreak appears to be limited to the luncheon event at Lumby Days.
— This story was updated at 1:28 p.m. June 15, 2016 to say Interior Health was alerted to the incident by the Village of Lumby.
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