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Parasitic infections in Westchester County linked to game dinners at American Legion Post, health officials say

Parasitic infections linked to American Legion dinners in Mount Kisco
Parasitic infections linked to American Legion dinners in Mount Kisco 02:01

MOUNT KISCO, N.Y. -- There is a public health alert in Westchester County after several people fell ill with a parasitic infection after attending game dinners at an American Legion in January.

Now, county health officials are trying to identify more people who were exposed.

County officials have traced it back to the Moses Taylor Jr. American Legion Post in Mount Kisco.

"The only phone call that I got this morning was from the county health department ... They just said 19 people were sick," one American Legion member said.

County leaders say the sickness is toxoplasmosis, an infection caused by a parasite. Westchester health officials say the exposure happened during two game dinners held on Friday, Jan. 19, and Saturday, Jan. 20.

"I believe it's deer, like deer meat, and from what I think, I think the meat wasn't properly cooked," American Legion employee Nelly Roque said.

A member says the food was from an outside venue.

"It was not cooked here. It was heated here. They have, they bring in, we rent the hall, that's it," he said.

County health officials confirm two people were diagnosed with the parasite and approximately 20 others are experiencing symptoms and are being tested.

"Symptoms include things like fever, muscle aches. A person may have a sore throat. They may feel somewhat tired," said Dr. Dial Helwett Jr. with the Westchester County Department of Health.

Doctors say these symptoms will go away after a day or two, but a compromised immune system may mean more serious symptoms from the beginning.

"This particular infection can involve the heart and cause what we call myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart. It may cause involvement of the lungs," Helwett said.

County health officials say approximately 200 people were at the dinners over the course of the two days, and they are asking anyone who ate the meal or leftovers to contact their doctor to be evaluated.

The Health Department is also asking that anyone who is pregnant, immunosuppressed, experiencing visual changes or eye symptoms, or any other symptoms call the Health Department at 914-813-5180 during business hours and 914-813-5000 after hours.

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