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Montreal public health department probing multiple sicknesses at McGill

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Montreal’s public health department has opened an investigation after reports of dozens of people falling sick during a computer science conference at McGill University held last week.

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“I can confirm that our department has started an investigation, after we received a report about the incidents this morning,” spokesman Jean-Nicolas Aubé said Tuesday. He added that Montreal’s food inspection agency is also looking into the incident. He said no further details were available because the investigation had just begun.

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La Presse reported Tuesday morning that numerous people spoke of suffering from severe diarrhea, vomiting and fever during the conference, as well as in the days following the event. Close to 700 people traveled to the university to take part in the information technology conference organized by Info-Can that ran from June 5 to 9.

David Meger, assistant professor at the school of computer science at McGill and one of the organizers of the conference, told La Presse dozens of participants, including himself, fell ill.

“It felt like a gastro, like food poisoning. It was very widespread,” he said. Some members told organizers they had to go to the emergency department for treatment.

Participants and organizers are pointing a finger at the boxed lunches of beef and turkey sandwiches that were reportedly served at room temperature. Meger said the firm was responsible for providing the food, said it was certain it was not to blame.