Food samples sent to lab after Chuang Yen Monastery outbreak
VideosOfficials: More than 150 sickened at Kent party EMT workers respond to food poisoning victims at Woodbury Commons
Lab results are expected within the next week that would reveal the source of a food-borne outbreak that sickened dozens of people who attended a Mother's Day garden party and food fair at a Buddhist monastery in Kent.
The Putnam County Department of Health said Monday that it has sent food samples to a state laboratory in Albany to be tested and that it would take anywhere from two days to a week before the results are known.
Sticky rice balls are suspected as a possible culprit, Town of Kent police Det. Gerald Locascio said Monday. About 700 people, most of them arriving on tour buses from New York City, came to the annual event, in which dishes were prepared by volunteers, a spokeswoman for the Chuang Yen Monastery said.
When the tour buses arrived at Woodbury Common for a post-lunch shopping excursion, witnesses saw people crying and gripping their stomachs as they were stricken with nausea and diarrhea.
Eric Gross of the Putnam County Bureau of Emergency Services said about 150 people overall became sick and about 80 of those had boarded buses to go to the shopping outlet. Locascio said his department had confirmed fewer than 30 sick but said the number could go as high as 150 or more.
The Chuang Yen Monastery is working with health officials during the investigation, a spokeswoman said.
Though an estimated 100 people went to hospitals in Putnam, Orange and Westchester counties, there were no reports of patients who remained overnight.
"Chuang Yen Monastery would like to express our deepest sympathies for all parties involved," a monastery statement read.
Some of the stricken were part of a group on several buses run by E/World Tours.
Liu Hong, a tourist on a bus that wasn't part of E/World Tours' group, said at Woodbury Common that she saw people coming off a bus holding their stomachs and complaining of flulike symptoms.
"A couple of them threw up," she said.
Chen Yong Mei, also with a group unaffected by the outbreak, said she saw people crying and grabbing their stomachs.
"Nobody knows what happened," she said. "Everybody was worried that it was something they ate."
More than 100 people were taken to hospitals in Putnam, Orange and Westchester counties, officials said, including Orange Regional Medical Center and St. Luke's Cornwall Hospital. Not all those who became ill chose to seek medical attention, Gross said.
Rob Lee, a spokesman for Orange Regional Medical Center, said the hospital treated about a dozen of those sickened for abdominal pains, nausea and vomiting. He said all of the patients have been released.
Kate Dabroski, a spokeswoman for St. Luke's, said the hospital treated and released eight people who had suffered from abdominal pains, nausea and vomiting from Sunday's mass suspected food poisoning.
A statement from Woodbury Common management stressed that any food suspected in the outbreak did not originate at the outlet center.
"First responders advised our management that these individuals had a meal just hours before in Putnam County," the statement said.
The website of E/World Tours includes a one-day, $35 bus tour to Woodbury Common originating from midtown Manhattan. Calls to the Manhattan offices of E/World Tours were not returned.
The Putnam County Health Department asks people who fell ill after attending the party to call its hotline at 845-808-1390.