An article yesterday about 22 persons becoming ill after eating at a Prince George's County restaurant inaccurately characterized a statement by a Marriott Corp. official. Marriott spokeswoman Mary McGuire said the illnesses apparently originated at the restaurant. She stressed yesterday, however, that bacteria have not been determined to have caused the outbreak.
Howard University law student Darryl Broadus met his wife Stacie for Sunday breakfast Sept. 8 after he got off his job. They helped themselves to eggs and sausage at a breakfast bar at the Bob's Big Boy Restaurant on Allentown Road in Camp Springs and then went home to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon.
By the time Broadus, 26, hit the books later that afternoon, he said he was feeling a little queasy. His wife, also 26 and eight months pregnant, became ill later in the evening. Both complained of sharp abdominal pains, diarrhea and vomiting.
"Nobody believed me at first when we told them we had food poisoning," said Broadus yesterday. He later went to Group Health Association on Pennsylvania Avenue to find out what was wrong.
Broadus, his wife and at least 20 other people who ate at the restaurant Sept. 7 or 8 suffered from the symptoms of salmonella food poisoning, a Prince George's health official said yesterday.
"It's the sickest I've ever been in my life," said a 30-year-old Fort Washington government employe who ate there on Sept. 7 and did not want to be identified yesterday. "I thought I was going to die on Sunday." She was released from a hospital yesterday.
The restaurant has been open for business as usual since the incident, which patrons did not report to health authorities until Sept. 11. On Sept. 13, inspectors went to the restaurant and found no evidence of contamination, said Melanie Christodoulou, the division chief of the county health department's food control division.
Mary Maguire, public relations manager for the Marriott Corp., which runs Big Boy, acknowledged yesterday that the bacteria probably originated at the Allentown Road restaurant and said officials there are cooperating with county health officials to track down the source of the outbreak.
Art Thacher, the county's deputy health officer, said that officials were interviewing dozens of people who may have eaten at the restaurant that weekend, comparing the food consumed by those who became ill to that eaten by others who were not affected.
"This looks like it was probably a single source type of outbreak and there hasn't been a reoccurrence," Thacher said.
"People can be scrupulous about the way they prepare food, and sometimes it just happens," Thacher said.
"The common denominator for all the patients is eating scrambled eggs at the breakfast bar . . . ," said Dr. Venkat Mani, a consultant on infectious diseases to both Greater Southeast and Southern Maryland hospitals who treated several of those affected. "When [eggs] are not cooked hot enough to kill bacteria and then are left at room temperature for a long period of time, [the bacteria can] multiply in the food." The disease is generally not fatal, he said, but can incapacitate patients for more than a week at a time.
In April, eight persons became ill after eating at Middleburg's Red Fox Inn. Prince George's County and D.C. health officials said yesterday that there have been only isolated incidences of salmonella reported in recent months.