An Incident in The Dalles, Oregon

Unit 2, Item 3.  An Incident in The Dalles, Oregon

In September and October 1984, members of a religious cult intentionally introduced salmonella into food bars at a number of restaurants in The Dalles, Oregon. Over 751 customers and food service workers suffered illness from the contamination. It was over a year after the disease outbreak that law enforcement investigators linked the crime to the religious commune.


Torok T. J., Tauxe, R.V., Wise, R.P., Livengood, J. R., Sokolow, R., Mauvais, S., Birkness, K. A., Skeels, M. R., Horan, J., and Foster, L. R. (1997). A large community outbreak of salmonellosis caused by intentional contamination of restaurant salad bars. Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol 278, No. 5, pp. 389-395. Retrieved from: Here 

Read the article and give short answers (one or two paragraphs) to the following questions:

a.) Is this an act of bioterrorism? Why or why not? Justify your answer based on the facts of the case and/or authoritative sources that define bioterrorism. Reference sources.”

b.) The authors presented a number of reasons why intentional contamination was not initially suspected during the public health investigation. How did the public health investigators’ assumptions blind them to the reality of an intentional act of food poisoning?

c.) What consequences of a covert act of bioterrorism may lead to recognition that an attack has taken place?

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