Salmonella to Blame for Illness at Firefly - 8 News NOW

Salmonella to Blame for Illness at Firefly

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LAS VEGAS -- The Southern Nevada Health District has determined that salmonella caused diners at the Firefly restaurant on Paradise Road to become sick.

The district is still trying to find out exactly how the bacteria spread in the popular tapas restaurant.

At least 39 people became ill after eating at the restaurant, but more people have come forward to report they also suffered vomiting and stomach pains. Health officials do not have an exact number at this point.

Popular Restaurant Closed After Outbreak

The health district closed the restaurant Friday. It was fined $700 and cited for more than 40 health code violations. It received demerits for improper handwashing, spoiled food, and food contamination. It will stay closed until the testing is complete. 

Experts say salmonella can be caused a variety of ways. For people with weaker immune systems, it can be deadly. Tina Saari checked into the hospital Monday night for the second time after suffering severe symptoms.

"Abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, pretty much can't eat," Saari said.

She believes, medication she was already taking, weakened her immune system. She has been fighting the infection for the last eight days.

Jean Hertzman, the assistant dean of operations at the UNLV College of Hotel Administration, said there are about 100 different types of foodborne illnesses and they are usually spread through poor food handling, cross-contamination, and food kept at the wrong temperature.

"They're going to re-inspect more frequently and if there's not progress there's going to be great concern," Hertzman said.

Firefly received an "A" grade on it's previous inspection in 2012  but was closed down once before in 2011.

John Simmons, owner of the Firefly, released the following statement:

"We understand that it is being reported that the cause of the food borne illness at Firefly was caused by salmonella. We have not received any official notification from the Health District on this, but we are pleased to see that the investigation is moving forward. We continue to work closely with officials as we, too, are anxious to find the cause and make this right."

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