Following an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of a Belmont Park backstretch worker from symptoms consistent with hantavirus, the New York State Department of Health announced that the virus was not present in the deceased individual late in the day Saturday. After tests on clinical specimens were conducted at federal Centers for Disease Control, it was determined that the worker died as a result of a bacterial infection.
The Department of Health stated that the probable cause of the death was bacterial sepsis, a condition in which the infectious agent, a common bacteria known as Klebsiella, has spread throughout the body. The deceased individual was found unconscious on June 1 outside the Belmont backstretch housing unit and was transported to a hospital. While hantavirus has been ruled out, NYRA said they are efforting to improve overall backstretch housing conditions.
“NYRA is committed to modernizing backstretch facilities at Belmont Park to support the health and well-being of the backstretch community,” said Patrick McKenna, director of communications at NYRA. “NYRA will continue to address pest control measures throughout Belmont Park and will implement all of New York State's recommendations.”
To that end, a number of employees who were living in substandard housing were relocated, and NYRA has agreed to revamp its pest control processes to include more preventative measures and greater trapping and control practices.