THE BORDERLANDS — An outbreak of food poisoning resulted in over 300 hospitalizations on Deep Space 224 last week, prompting station officials to order the temporary closure of all restaurants in the station’s commercial sector.
Security and medical personnel investigating the incident identified Subway Sam’s, a popular soup-and-sandwich establishment on the upper promenade, as the source.
The outbreak began just after midday last Monday, when multiple patients arrived at sickbay in close succession, complaining of nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea.
“We quickly realized we were dealing with a food-borne pathogen. A bacterium, to be specific,” said Lieutenant Simons, Chief Medical Officer. “We reported this to security immediately so they could investigate.”
At 2100 hours, as cases continued to rise, station commander Captain Cascadia Rainier ordered all restaurants in the commercial sector to close for two days. Rainier also authorized station security to clear the promenade and establish a cordon sanitaire. By 2300 hours, Sickbay reported that 353 people were hospitalized, with nearly 50 of them in serious condition. The outbreak’s rapid spread placed a significant strain on the station’s medical facilities and personnel.
“It didn’t take long for us to find the common denominator,” said Simons. “Everyone treated for this illness had reported eating at Subway Sam’s within 12 hours before the onset of symptoms.”
After medical staff had identified the culprit of the food poisoning, security officers began investigating the specific cause.
“Many of the restaurants in the commercial sector replicate their ingredients,” said security officer Ensign Burkell. “But because Subway Sam’s specializes in selections from across the galaxy, they import most theirs.”
The station’s import register shows that Subway Sam’s received a shipment of biodynamic Antarean spinach on Sunday, the day before the outbreak. Records show it is the first time the restaurant bought the vegetable, and the staff followed all import procedures. Medical officers detected strains of bacteria on specimens of the spinach matching those found during a similar outbreak on Beta Antares IV last year. Animal waste used as fertilizer and irrigation water are common causes of biodynamic produce contamination.
“Cargo transporters routinely screen incoming bio-matter and filter out known contaminants,” said Burkell. “But because station regulations exempt biodynamic produce from transport, import office personnel delivered the cargo containers to the restaurant on an anti-grav sled.”
The food-borne illness affected individuals of all species, with Humans, Bajorans, and Betazoids experiencing the most severe symptoms. Fortunately, there were no fatalities associated with the outbreak.
By 0800 hours on Thursday, all other restaurants in the commercial sector had reopened, and sickbay had discharged all remaining patients by midday. Subway Sam’s remains closed while the investigation is ongoing, and while criminal charges are unlikely, the reputational damage and potential decline in patronage may be just as serious.
“I have never been so violently ill in my life,” said Jane van Klaveren, a human Starfleet engineer. “I honestly thought I was going to die. I survived Operation Bright Star, but a sandwich almost killed me. I don’t think I’ll eat there again.”
Subway Sam’s proprietor, who likewise goes by the name Subway Sam, could also face the revocation of his business license and expulsion from the Commercial Sector Merchants’ Association, the advisory body and advocacy group of business owners on the station.
“What happened last week was unacceptable, and I intend to campaign vociferously for Subway Sam’s expulsion,” said Ples, proprietor of Burger Nagus, a competing dining establishment that recently opened on the promenade. “All of Subway Sam’s former customers are more than welcome to come to Burger Nagus for their dining needs. No one has ever got sick from our food yet. Think of the children!”
At press time, Subway Sam had not responded to requests for an interview.
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