The New York State Department of Health on Saturday announced that confirmatory testing of clinical specimens from a recently-deceased Belmont Park backstretch worker sent to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention returned a negative result for hantavirus. The samples were sent to the CDC for confirmation, per Department protocol, following a positive result for hantavirus at a commercial laboratory in California. Based on CDC findings and the Department of Health's ongoing investigation, the probable cause of death is bacterial sepsis.
Bacterial sepsis is a condition in which the infectious agent, in this case the common bacteria known as Klebsiella, has spread throughout the body. Bacterial sepsis can become life threatening if the immune system is overwhelmed.
The employee, whose name is being withheld to protect privacy, was found unconscious on June 1 outside the housing unit in the Belmont backstretch where the patient lived and was transported to a hospital, and later died on June 6.
Based on the conditions observed during the Department of Health investigation, the New York Racing Association (NYRA) will continue all remediation efforts under Department of Health oversight. NYRA has relocated employees who were living in substandard housing and agreed to immediately overhaul its pest control management practices including more rigorous building maintenance to limit routes of entry, an improved strategy for waste management, better overall monitoring, and improved rodent trapping and control practices.
A statement from the New York Racing Association said: “NYRA is committed to modernizing backstretch facilities at Belmont Park to support the health and well-being of the backstretch community. NYRA will continue to address pest control measures throughout Belmont Park and will implement all of New York State's recommendations.”
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