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Sunday, April 13

Soldiers get sick after eating breakfast

By Gina Cavallaro | Army Times

CAMP NEW JERSEY, Kuwait - Nearly 40 soldiers were treated here Sunday for what officials believe may have been a bout of food poisoning.

The first cases began trickling in around 10 a.m., just a couple of hours after breakfast. Many said they had eaten chipped beef or eggs for breakfast in one of three tents where meals are served.

"They all came from one tent and they all developed signs and symptoms a few hours after eating breakfast," said Sgt. Kellie Malone, the treatment noncommissioned officer in charge from the 547th Area Support Medical Company.

The soldiers who became ill all told Malone they had eaten eggs and chipped beef, although some said they had only eaten a boiled egg or scrambled eggs. "The common thing is the egg," she said.

The victims, almost half members of the 4th Infantry Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team, suffered severe vomiting, diarrhea, nausea and cramping. They were treated intravenously for dehydration and were given phenegran, an anti-nausea medication. The soldiers also were treated with Cipro in case of possible bacterial infection.

After about two hours under treatment, the patients were feeling well enough to get up and return to their units, Malone said. No one was evacuated.

In spite of suspicions about the breakfast selections, the possibility of a virus is under consideration. No conclusion had been reached by the end of the day, however, and a preventive medicine team was due to arrive Monday to assess the camp's dining facilities.

"There are a number of tests that can be run. We're leaving it in the doctors' hands right now," said Lt. Col. Steven Middleton, garrison commander of Camp New Jersey. "They'll look at procedures in the mess hall, examine food remaining from the suspect meal."

The menus are chosen by the V Corps dietician, but the food is prepared by outside contractors who serve three meals a day to feed the more than 7,000 people now in camp.