What made 137 jail inmates get sick at the same time?

Health Department investigators are working on that question.

It's not good to be in jail, but last Saturday morning would have been a really bad time to be in Ramsey County's Adult Detention Center. 

137 inmates – that's more than one-fourth of everyone locked up there – got sick. All around the same time, says the Minnesota Department of Health, which is investigating. 

What kind of sick? Stomach pain, diarrhea, and vomiting, undersheriff Joe Paget tells the Pioneer Press, adding that he's never seen anything like it in his 28 years with the county. 

In a statement released to GoMN, the Health Department said the symptoms suggest "a bacterial intoxication such as Clostridium perfringens." Uh, OK.

When we looked it up, we learned those are bacteria associated with food poisoning. They cause about 1 million illnesses a year nationwide, the CDC says

One law firm that specializes in food poisoning cases calls it "the food service germ." MarlerClark says: "The majority of outbreaks are associated with undercooked meats, often in large quantities of food prepared for a large group of people and left to sit out for long periods of time."

According to WCCO, the jail's food service company, Summit Food, was notified about the outbreak and sent a representative to the jail Saturday. 

The Health Department says none of the inmates needed to be hospitalized and there haven't been any new illnesses reported. 

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