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State investigating whether Atrium's cafeteria made people sick

Investigators say the problems likely came from the food source -- not from health and safety problems at the Atrium Navicent Health cafeteria

MACON, Ga. — The state health department is investigating a possible food-borne illness at one of Atrium Health Navicent's downtown Macon cafeterias.

At least 10 people reported getting sick after eating there, according to Michael Hokanson of the state's North Central Health District.

He says their investigators are still questioning those 10 people and others at the hospital.

But he said they believe the problem likely stemmed from supplies coming into the cafeteria -- not from food-handling problems there.

The problem may be connected to food served at the cafeteria's salad bar, he said.

In a statement to 13WMAZ, the hospital said they've identified an illness -- cyclosporiasis -- that is typically caused by contaminated fresh produce. They say as a precaution, they've removed all fresh fruit and vegetables from their cafeterias.

Hokanson said Atrium Health Navicent reported the problem to the state on July 7.

He said at least 10 people -- a mix of staff and patients -- reported gastrointestinal problems in June and early July.

None of the cases resulted in serious illness, he said.

Hokanson said they've sent a survey to the 10 people, and they'd like to send it to others at the hospital.

Investigators are still unclear on the source of the illness.

But once they've narrowed that down, Hokanson said, the health agency hopes to give more specific guidance to the people who got sick and to the hospital.

13WMAZ reached out to Atrium Navicent Health on Monday and Tuesday; a spokeswoman said they are preparing a statement on the matter.

Anybody with information on the matter can call the health district at (478) 751-6303.

The complete statement from Atrium Health Navicent:

“Atrium Health Navicent recently identified a cluster of a gastrointestinal illness caused by Cyclosporiasis in central Georgia, which includes several of our teammates. As this type of infection is most often related to the contamination of fresh produce during production and not due to food handling or preparation after delivery, we have taken the precaution to remove all fresh fruit and produce from our cafeterias. We are working with the Georgia Department of Public Health and our food suppliers to investigate the cluster of illness and identify the source. Individuals who have developed diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms are encouraged to seek medical attention if symptoms do not improve quickly.

 Atrium Health Navicent takes pride in offering convenient and healthy food options for visitors and teammates at multiple on-site locations. An issue which could be addressed immediately was corrected during a June 24 health inspection at the small eatery that services our health education center. Work orders were initiated for two other improvements and since have been completed. The main cafeteria at Atrium Health Navicent The Medical Center received a score of 97 when inspected on June 24. We continually review our safety practices to ensure we remain in compliance.” 


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