Mystery Illness Spreads Across Greenbrier, TN

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 Smokey Barn News, August 8th 2013 Greenbrier, TN Robertson County

Mystery Illness Spreads Across Greenbrier, TN:  VIDEO REPORT CLICK HERE

This is a developing story but we will give you what we have. Starting early in the week Smokey started receiving a few emails about an illness spreading across Greenbrier that looked like food poisoning. The symptoms people were reporting were diarrhea, upset stomach and vomiting.  iPhone/iPad users click on photo to play video

Play VIDEOAs we went into Wednesday evening and Thursday the reports of sick people started escalating quickly. It seems that Greenbrier schools are the hardest hit with 12 at one school and 7 at another school including other staff members according to Mike Davis, the new Director of Schools  for Robertson County. Greenbrier Elementary, Greenbrier Middle, Greenbrier High and Watauga Elementary schools are the ones that have been affected. Davis indicated that classes have been covered by substitute teachers.

Several hours later after some research by the Davis the number climbed to 86 faculty members reporting symptoms but that number included cases from earlier in the week.  Davis also stated, “We believe it is a food contamination from a local chain” The food was part of a welcome lunch provided to the teachers in Greenbrier to kick off the new year.

The number of cases seems to have leveled off, according to Davis and most of the cases reported are from people that ate the sandwiches. So far (what ever it is) it has not transferred to the students. “It seems that they had to consume it in order to be affected.” Davis said.

Davis also said the “local chain” was investigated by the health department thoroughly and there is an ongoing investigation but as we understand it nothing was found at the chain.

Initially the reports we received were that people believed the cause was food poisoning, but due to the slow progression of the illness one official (Greenbrier Mayor Billy Wilson) thinks it looks more like a virus. “Food poisoning takes about 6 hours, whatever this is, is moving much slower.” Wilson said.

Many initial reports indicated it may possibly be connected to a Subway in Greenbrier. We contacted Subway and spoke to the Manager Andy Patel and and he said, “The health department was there checking everything yesterday and everything is good, I don’t know what happened, some people say they ate turkey, some say chicken and some people say it was the lettuce but the health department came and checked out everything”

Leslie King a Nurse Practitioner at Community Quick Care says she’s been dealing with a lot of patients that have presented with symptoms since last week. She’s convinced it’s a virus not food poisoning. She said that her and her staff have eaten sandwiches from the same Subway and from the same batch of sandwiches and they have not developed symptoms. Community Quick Care paid for and had the sandwiches delivered to the schools for the teachers first day back. They kept a tray for themselves and have been eating them throughout the week since Tuesday.

She also said food poisoning and stomach viruses can look similar with nausea and diarrhea. We have people from many locations reporting it and she’s very confident it’s a virus and not food poisoning. King also said the symptoms seem to be lasting 24 to 48 hours.

According to Greenbrier Mayor Billy Wilson his wife has the same symptoms and she has had no contact with the food.

Leslie King said that kids were showing symptoms as early as last week so the teachers may have been exposed that way.

Dr Matt Browning of Well Now Urgent Family Care of Springfield, said he has seen an increase in viral gastroenteritis (stomach bug) cases in the last week. At least one case was severe enough to be sent to Northcrest Hospital.

Shelley L. Walker, Assistant Director, Communication and Media Relations with the Tennessee Department of Health,   said “we are looking into several reports of illness from Robertson County, and have not yet identified a source of the illness.”

Smokey will provide more information as it becomes available. If it seems we were a tad slow reporting this story, we were presented with lots of information on this story, we wanted to filter through it all and speak to officials to give you the the most accurate info as possible as to not cause a panic.

What would be helpful is for you to report in comments below if you or anyone you know have developed symptoms.

Jim Ball reporting


Several employees in the Greenbrier Cluster of schools reported that they became ill after consuming food from a local chain restaurant on Tuesday, Aug. 6. The employees appeared to have symptoms that may have come from food contamination, however that has not yet been confirmed by the Tennessee Department of Health.

Additional precautions have been taken and the school system will continue to monitor the situation and take whatever steps are necessary to ensure the health, safety and welfare of our students and employees.

For current health information regarding the schools call 384-4504

For updates on this story follow link HERE

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Latest Comments
  1. Danny Dallap

    It is happen to subway bcoz verry busy that’s store so is happen they are not doing verry clean .. Or food sefty .. 99% score is fake

  2. lucyimhome

    Husband and I both got food poisoning. The only thing we ate in common that day was butter we bought at Aldi’s. It was food poisoning, not a virus.

  3. booboo

    Keep your sick asses away feom me!!

  4. Jason Barrett

    I ate lunch at Subway in Greenbrier on Wednesday and began feeling sick Thursday afternoon. Fever and stomach virus symptoms. I could not go to work today and am still dealing with all the symptoms.

  5. lee ann

    A virus is going around but this sounds like something coming from Subway. Sorry they may not have found something wrong but same food from Monday would not be same food they tested. Or at least i hope not. Maybe the meats were left out or something but its def from something that come from Subwa. People that didnt eat thhere & are getting sick well sure thats probably virus related.

  6. jennifer

    Honestly this is a virus we live in a small town with very few fast food places, grocery stores, and schools is anyone surprised it would spread like wild fire. We are in contact with each other all day long here or there food poisoning is not spread like that. Despite the fact that with food poisoning symptoms can show sooner than later the majority show quickly. Please consider this in sending kids to school but also in condemning one of the few places here in town we have to eat at. They were checked out by the health department and cleared. What about the water etc. I mean come on.

  7. Dorothy

    It is very suspicious that so many who ate Subway food got sick. Unless the Health Department tested the food consumed there is no way they can say for sure what caused it. Common sense seems to dictate it is something connected to Subway, whether it be tainted food or a virus originating with their associates. The few times I have eaten there I have received poor customer service so I go elsewhere when I dine out. Thank goodness for that!

  8. crystal

    Thats what I was thinking when I read it…but im so confused on how they have been eating them for a week when they were took to school on the 6th

    • ME

      They were eating them starting the same day the teachers did, (Tues). The tray came from the same platters that were sent to the schools. Why is that such a big concern. It shows that people that had eaten the same food were not getting sick from subway.

  9. maria holtzlander

    There is not food poisoning it is a virus. The health department has been to the subway in greenbrier and said everything was fine. They have a score of 99 but since they had to come back out they scored a 95 so their food is not contaminated!!! Several people have eaten there and not gotten sick my nephew has had diahrea for almost a month now and has not eaten there his pediatrician said it was a virus

    • Marci

      So are you gonna run up there and eat a sub?

  10. Marci

    There is food poisoning and there is food borne illness Norovirus is a food-borne illness that starts from a contaminated person to food and then from food to person or person to person. If someone at Subway was sick with the virus, it could easily have spread to many people quickly. If you have been effected, please contact the health department. The more they know the better they can take care of it. As for me. I will not be going to subway.

  11. Angie Hackney

    My Dad ate at Subway yesterday and was up all night very sick. So weak today he is still in the bed. Something went very wrong somewhere.
    I like Subway, eat there all the time, but if this many people ate there yesterday and were sick last night and today, it had to be the food.

  12. Chester

    “They kept a tray for themselves and have been eating them all week.”

    Week old sandwiches? Eww.

    • crystal

      Thats what I was thinking when I read it…but im so confused on how they have been eating them for a week when they were took to school on the 6th