LAS VEGAS -- As many as 200 people might have contracted salmonella eating at Firefly on Paradise during a six-day period in late April, Southern Nevada Health District officials said Friday.
Sixteen cases of salmonella are confirmed and another 184 people are believed to have been sickened eating at the popular tapas restaurant. Of the 200 people, four are employees.
People from 20 states, as well as Canada and the United Kingdom, reported becoming ill after eating at Firefly on Paradise between April 21-26. Health district officials said based on the timing of these reports, the highest likelihood of illness exists for customers on April 22 and 23.
SNHD shut down Firefly on April 26 after an inspection revealed unsanitary conditions warranting 44 demerits and the restaurant remains closed. Its two sister locations in the valley are open, though the westside Firefly received 30 demerits on a recent inspection and had to pass a reinspection.
Investigators continue to work on identifying the exact source of the salmonella outbreak. After initially focusing on an aioli sauce that tested negative for salmonella, they now work from a list that includes the following, gleaned from interviews with diners at the restaurant:
The dishes are listed in descending order of their odds ratio, a statistical measurement represents the odds that an outcome will occur given a particular exposure, compared to the odds of the outcome occurring in the absence of that exposure, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. Investigators talked to a group of sickened diners and to a group that did not get sick, asking both what they ate during their visits.
Firefly owner John Simmons issued a statement in response to the report:
"We appreciate the diligence and thoroughness of the Southern Nevada Health District throughout this process. We will continue working with them as we implement the recommendations outlined in today's report – and we already have begun doing just that, including hiring a highly respected food safety and restaurant consultant with more than 25 years experience in the industry.
"At this time, there is no plan to reopen our 3900 Paradise location, as we will be moving forward with our original plan to have our new location at 3824 Paradise opened by the end of the month. Firefly has been a proud member of Southern Nevada for 10 years and we are optimistic that the combination of moving to this new location, that has a kitchen as large as the entire original Firefly restaurant, and the recommended retraining on operations and procedures, will help us regain the confidence of the community. We are greatly appreciative of the tremendous support we have received."