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Posted on: November 5, 2018

UPDATE: Poplar Tent Presbyterian Church BBQ

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Update: November 16, 2018

Cabarrus Health Alliance received preliminary test results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) related to food samples from the Poplar Tent Presbyterian Church BBQ held on November 1, 2018.

Samples of the barbecue pork, Brunswick stew, cole slaw and barbecue sauce were all tested to identify potential cause for illness. The Brunswick stew cultures tested positive for C. perfringens. C. perfringens is a common cause for food poisoning and infection often occurs when foods are prepared in large quantities and kept warm for a long time before serving. All other foods tested negative.

People infected with C. perfringens develop diarrhea and abdominal cramps within 6 to 24 hours (typically 8 to 12 hours). The illness usually begins suddenly and lasts for less than 24 hours.

Cabarrus Health Alliance officials are asking individuals to dispose of all leftovers and additional food purchased from the BBQ due to risk of cross-contamination.

Updates will be posted to the Cabarrus Health Alliance website, www.cabarrushealth.org, please check back for new information.

Points of contact: Marcella Beam, 704-920-1282

                         William Pilkington, 704-920-1203


UPDATE: November 7, 2018

CHA has submitted food and fecal samples to CDC and N.C. public health laboratories. Please continue to monitor the CHA website for additional updates. 


UPDATE: November 5, 2018

Cabarrus Health Alliance staff continue to investigate illnesses with a possible link to the Poplar Tent Presbyterian Church BBQ held on November 1, 2018.

  • CHA staff asked anyone who ate at the BBQ to email investigation@cabarrushealth.org with their email contact information
  • Individuals who share their contact information will receive a link to an electronic questionnaire from the state to help further narrow down the source
  • As of 11:00am on Monday, November 5th, CHA has received over 200 emails reporting for 468 people. Of those, 62% reported being ill and 38% reported no symptoms.
  • CHA staff do not believe this is transmittable from person-to-person
  • Food and stool samples have been collected and the state lab will test for cause of illness
  • Anyone seeking medical guidance should contact their physician
  • Poplar Tent Presbyterian Church staff have been extremely helpful and supportive during this investigation


ORIGINAL REPORT: November 2, 2018

Multiple People Reporting Illness with Possible Link to Church BBQ

Kannapolis, N.C. – Cabarrus Health Alliance officials are investigating multiple reports of illness. Those ill are experiencing vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. Right now, CHA knows of at least 13 individuals who are sick and the common thread is food eaten from Poplar Tent Presbyterian Church BBQ. 

Health Alliance officials shared this is a small number of people experiencing these symptoms out of 1,000’s who ate there but the coincidence of so many with the same symptoms, same on-set of illness, and same food source does cause concern and the need for public outreach.

“We are encouraging anyone who ate at the church BBQ on November 1, 2018 to throw away any food they may have taken home with them,” shared Erin Shoe, Chief Operating Officer at CHA. She also asked that anyone who ate at the BBQ email their name and contact information to investigation@cabarrushealth.org in order help CHA and state officials with their ongoing investigation.

“We’ve talked with people who ate there who are sick and we’ve talked to people who ate there and are not sick. We cannot say with absolute certainty that food from the BBQ is the culprit but we do think it’s important to let the community know just in case they have left overs.”

Those who are sick are encouraged to stay hydrated and seek medical attention if symptoms do not improve within 24 hours and/or they have a chronic health condition.

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